Halloween is right around the corner. Go ahead and put on those costumes and makeup before mingling with ghosts and goblins and venturing through haunted houses. But stay away from those counterfeit, colored contact lenses.
These contacts — which are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — contain heavy metals and other toxins that pose health and safety hazards.
The FDA has issued numerous warnings about using non-regulated contact lenses during Halloween, saying these items can lead to painful infections, the pink eye or impaired vision.
Beware of counterfeit goods in gas stations, party stores
Counterfeit makeup, handbags and other cosmetic items also can pose health risks.
“A lot of these items can be found in Halloween-themed stores, gas stations and party stores,” Tim Meadows, Homeland Security Investigations Jackson assistant special agent in charge, said Wednesday.
“These items are coming from black-market sources and vendors,” he said, adding that they contain heavy metals and toxins which could result in infections.
In 2015, for example, a Michigan teen who wanted to be a zombie for Halloween purchased some Halloween-themed contacts that led to her damaging her cornea and partially blinding her right eye.
In 2016, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency, along with the FDA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, seized about 100,000 pairs of nationwide of counterfeit contact lenses in an ongoing initiative called Operation Double Vision.
Seem to good to be true? Could be counterfeit
The Homeland Security of Investigations in Jackson, as part of its counterfeit crackdown during the holiday season, will be targeting vendors hawking suspect goods.
When consumers purchase these goods, Meadows said, they are hurting law-abiding store owners, companies that make legitimate products and the workers who depend on the sales for their livelihood.
“You are depriving U.S. citizens of jobs and American people of tax revenue by undervaluing objects,” Meadows said.
“Purchase from reputable dealers. Be cautious when shopping online and use common sense. If the deal seems to good to be true, it probably is.”
Real designer handbags — like Louis Vutton, for example — may have a retail price for $600 in a store like Macy’s but counterfeits may sell for $30 from black market vendors.
Over the last year, some 100 items were seized by HSI in Mississippi. When consumers or merchants violate intellectual property right laws, the penalty is not a “slap on the wrist.”
“It is a 10-year federal sentence for trafficking and counterfeiting goods,” Meadows said.
“We are committed to an aggressive approach of ensuring the nation’s property rights.”
Contact Wilton Jackson at 601-961-7241 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter.
Halloween contact lenses: ‘Zombie’ contacts damage teen’s eye
Halloween contact lenses: Counterfeit contact lenses could land you in the hospital.