Customs officials in Shanghai reportedly seized several tons of counterfeit Pokémon cards yesterday.
Shanghai customs officials found the cards in an outbound shipment at Pudong Airport, according to Yicai Global, a Chinese state-affiliated news organization, and NintendoLife. There were 20 boxes of cards, coming in at a weight of 7.6 tons. The cards were reportedly bound for the Netherlands and were manufactured by a company in China’s Qingdao province. Yicai calls it “one of the biggest fake IP hauls in recent years.”
A video shared by officials shows one of the counterfeit boxes. The boxes look legitimate, with official logos, artwork, and descriptions on all sides. It’s unclear how customs officers discovered the illegitimate shipment or how they learned it was fake, but the cards have been seized.
The fake cards were likely riding on the recent success of the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG). The Pokémon Company sold 3.7 billion Pokémon cards during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which amounts to 10.8 percent of all Pokémon cards ever sold, according to NintendoLife. That number only accounts for official sales, too: Rare, powerful, and popular cards are often sold secondhand through outlets like eBay and Facebook Marketplace, meaning that the actual number of cards purchased last year is likely even higher. Sales numbers like these are the reason that counterfeit cards are so popular—and probably why there were several tons of fake cards in the seized shipment.
These aren’t the only fake Pokémon products floating around the global marketplace. There are whole communities dedicated to showing off the most egregiously counterfeit Pokémon plushies and other goods.