By Maria Halkias

The Dallas Morning News

Counterfeit goods are increasing as the internet makes mass distribution of goods easier with much of it happening through Facebook ads, Amazon third-party sellers and on eBay, according to a new report.

Amazon has acknowledged it’s an issue and said in February that it’s working on it. Amazon said it caught 3 billion suspicious listings last year before the counterfeit merchandise appeared on its website.

U.S. Customs agents seized $1.2 billion in counterfeit shipments in 2017. Shipping and smuggling efforts vary widely, “creating major headaches for customers officials,” the report said.

The biggest categories hit by counterfeits are electronics, shoes, fragrances, clothes and jewelry, but all major brands of merchandise are at risk, and much of it comes from China and Hong Kong, the report said.

People in their 20s and 30s are most at risk and are more likely to be women (53 percent), the report said. The average loss is $350.

The General Accounting Office last year disclosed it has purchased goods on a variety of sites, and 20 of the 47 products were counterfeit and included six of nine Yeti travel mugs, all 13 Urban Decay cosmetics and one in 10 phone chargers were fake. All those goods were shipped from U.S. addresses.

The report called “Fakes are not Fashionable” found that one in four Americans has purchased counterfeit goods and called it an epidemic.

• 89 percent come in small packages

• 16 percent of goods posed potential health and safety risks.

Most of those are risks from cosmetics and contact lenses, but some aren’t so obvious.

Richardson-based Fossil has warned consumers about the risks of counterfeit watch bands direct contact with skin. Fossil’s are made of stainless steel. The company has seen counterfeits with unsafe levels of cadmium and lead.