RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When it comes to counterfeit items, you may think 'What's the harm?' But the North Carolina Secretary of State is warning that buying counterfeit gifts can be dangerous.
The fakes can sometimes be safety hazards, and often result in your hard-earned money going to support organized crime rings, according to state investigators.
"The last two raids we've done in the last quarter found drugs in each one of those operations, found illegal weapons and possession of a weapon by a felon. Some pretty bad operators are supporting themselves because people think this is victimless. They think that there's no harm in all this stuff, but there is," North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said.
Marshall showed Troubleshooter Diane Wilson some of the counterfeit items, like phone chargers, that her office has taken off the streets.
"These are all fake charging cubes. Apple doesn't make charging-colored cubes, they heat up when you put them in the wall."
Some of the fake AirPods are dangerous and could result in significant injuries, according to Marshall.
"We have tangible evidence of some fake earbuds that somebody was testing and put in their ear and actually burned their ear because they got hot."
Marshall also showed Wilson several items of fake sporting apparel.
"The Nike should be under the stitching. This has been applied after this label was added on. So, it's stitched on top."
Marshall said shoppers should look at the loose stitching, plus always pull out the insoles of shoes to spot poor craftsmanship.
When it comes to fashion accessories like purses, Marshall suggests, "If they smell like vinyl and plastic, that's probably a pretty good sign right there."
Also look for misspellings on the product, poor craftsmanship, and price. If it's much cheaper than the real deal, then those could all be red flags that you're buying a fake.