“THAT’S NOT AN 🍎,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection tweeted on Sunday night. The federal agency was crowing about its latest bust and claiming it had “seized 2,000 counterfeit Apple AirPods from Hong Kong,” estimated to have carried a retail value of $398,000. The only problem is that the CBP shared photos of perfectly normal OnePlus Buds as evidence of the tactical-seizure-can-of-whoop-ass that it just opened on tech counterfeiters. By all appearances, CBP forgot that Apple isn’t the only company making sleek white wireless earbuds.
The tweet linked out to a full press release that bragged its agents took custody of the 2,000 counterfeit Airpods at an air cargo facility located at John F. Kennedy International Airport on August 31. The heroic event received little notice until the agency posted its tweet with photos:
The tweet has thousands of replies informing CPB that the included photos are just OnePlus Buds, perfectly normal wireless earbuds that just happen to take a lot of inspiration from Apple’s designs. OnePlus even tweeted at the agency “Hey, give those back!”
CBP hasn’t deleted or corrected the tweet, and the agency did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. It’s unclear exactly what’s happening in this situation, but you can see OnePlus’s standard packaging matches the CBP images here. We’ll update this post when we learn more.
Back in June, CBP’s Office of Inspector General found that the agency had separated at least 60 asylum-seeking families from their children despite the CBP’s claim since 2018 that it had only separated seven asylum-seeking parents from their children. Given how little care agents seem to give cases involving living human beings, it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to find they can be sloppy when it comes to incidents involving fraudulent earbuds.
“The interception of these counterfeit earbuds is a direct reflection of the vigilance and commitment to mission success by our CBP Officers daily,” Troy Miller, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations, said in a statement on the case.
Update 9/14, 3:50 PM: CBP has not provided Gizmodo with further updates but a spokesperson for the agency told The Verge that it’s sticking with its initial assessment that the items it seized are fake Airpods. They said the following:
Upon examining the shipment in question, a CBP import specialist determined that the subject earbuds appeared to violate Apple’s configuration trademark. Apple has configuration trademarks on their brand of earbuds, and has recorded those trademarks with CBP... Based on that determination, CBP officers at JFK Airport have seized the shipment under 19 USC 1526 (e).
We’ll update this post when we know more.