85 counterfeit guitars worth up to $260,000 seized by Washington Dulles International Airport customs agents

A lineup shot of 85 counterfeit Fenders, Gibsons and other electric guitars
(Image credit: CBP.gov)

Customs officers at Washington Dulles International Airport in Washington DC have seized 85 counterfeit electric guitars and acoustic guitars.

The collection, if authentic, would have carried an estimated total value of around $258,707, and features a number of well-known names and models, including Fender, Gibson, Kramer, Martin and Taylor.

Upon its arrival in the US from China, CBP officers inspected the cache of guitars, before consulting with CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising experts. After an investigation involving trademark holders, it was confirmed that guitars had violated trademark protections. The lot was seized on June 9.

Chief among the models seized include a fake Gibson Les Paul sporting Slash’s signature valued at $8,000, as well as an Eddie Van Halen-style Kramer, Black Beauty-inspired Les Paul and triple humbucker-equipped ‘61-esque SG. 

A guitar carrying Angus Young’s signature was also seized, alongside 13 acoustics embossed with Martin and Taylor decals.

Counterfeit Fender headstock

(Image credit: CBP.gov)

The axes were headed to addresses in 31 different states, with 10 guitars being shipped to California, three to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, two to West Virginia and one to Delaware.

Said Keith Fleming, CBP’s Acting Director of Field Operations in Baltimore, “The international trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threatens the competitiveness of American businesses while funding criminal activity.

“Counterfeit goods pose a serious health and safety risk to American consumers. Customs and Borders Protection, along with our law enforcement and consumer safety partners, remain committed to making it difficult and costly for unscrupulous vendors to take advantage of unsuspecting American consumers.”

It's the latest high-profile counterfeit guitar seizure to have occurred at Washington Dulles Airport this year, after customs officers stopped a cache of 35 fake axes valued at $158,000 back in February.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.