18 U.S. Code 542 Beware of Alibaba Foreign Purchases Online

18 USC 542 False Statement

18 U.S. Code § 542 –Entry of goods by means of false statements. “Whoever enters or introduces, or attempts to enter or introduce, into the commerce of the United States any imported merchandise by means of any fraudulent or false invoice, declaration, affidavit, letter, paper, or by means of any false statement…shall be fined for each offense under this title or imprisoned not more then two years, or both.

Last fall there was a lot of excitement when Alibaba announced their initial public offering (IPO) in the United States.  It was the largest tech IPO ever in United States history.

Here are some things that should concern any buyer about “some” sellers on AliExpress.com:

You can buy these shoes $41 cheaper then you can from a USA based retailer.  What a deal at $48, right? They also offer free shipping to the United States.  How can they ship FREE from China?  Read What is the U.S. Postal Service, China, EBAY Tri-Lateral Shipping Agreement? 

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AliExpress

This seller also discloses this information for you when visit their AliExpress listing:

Aliexpress U.S. Customs 

I looked up this Nike BRAND Air Max shoes on AliExpress.com the cost with FREE shipping direct from China is $48.00.  The average cost for the same pair of shoes purchased from a USA based online retailer was $89.00.  Apparently you can buy the same pair of shoes directly from China for $41 less.

  • PLEASE NOTE: The shoes cost $48.  You are engaged in a retail purchase.  The seller makes a false declaration that the items are a “gift” and the items are valued only at $40.  Are you feeling comfortable with this transaction?  When you hit the “add to cart” or buy now” are you engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States of Customs duties and entering goods into the United States by means of a false statement? YES.  Will your shoes be shipped in the U.S. Mail via the U.S. Postal Service? YES  Is this mail fraud?  YES.

Here is one more example of things to look for when buying from AliExpress (many sellers have terms like this):

Look at this great deal on a cell phone.

AliExpress

This seller also discloses this information for you when visit their AliExpress listing:

AliExpress Fraud

  • NOTE:  You paid $132.48 – $143.06 for your phone.  Look at the declared value #3 above.  “Declare value and name: We declare $65 by default as GIFT phone or tablet: if you have special request then please leave notes in the order, we could declare lowest value is $27.   

Are you feeling comfortable with this transaction?  When you hit the “add to cart” or “buy now” are you engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the United States of Customs duties and entering goods into the United States by means of a false statement? YES.  Will your shoes be shipped in the U.S. Mail via the U.S. Postal Service? YES  Is this mail fraud?  YES

Think twice when adding an item to your shopping cart.  Is FREE shipping directly from China worth up to 2 years in federal prison to save a few dollars on your shoes and cell phone?  Maybe it is to you but not me.  I will NOT go to jail for shopping.

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