CALDWELL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is proposing legislation to beef up customs enforcement to curb the flow of counterfeit gowns into the country.

An estimated 700,000 counterfeit bridal and prom dresses make their way into the country each year, costing U.S. shops over $1 billion a year, Menendez said.

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“They’re losing business because the Chinese and others are pirating marketing images from U.S. designers to make them look real,” Menendez said.

The knockoffs are sold online for a price that’s too good to be true, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“There’s a difference between competition and ripoffs,” Menendez said. “When you get ripped off you’re not going to be happy.”

Comparing one of his wedding gowns to a counterfeit bought online, Stephen Lang, CEO of Ewing-based Mon Cherie Bridals, said the color is wrong, the stitching poor and the material is nylon and plastic.

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“They take our images, they use them up on the Internet and it looks to an average consumer that they’re getting the real deal when in fact they’re not,” Lang said. “There’s enormous quality differences, there’s fit differences.”

“Competing with these online dealers peddling cheap designer knockoffs is a constant struggle,” said Adrienne Castellano, owner of Say I Do Bridal Boutique in Caldwell. “They are stealing money out of my family’s pocket, ripping off my customers and turning what should be a bride’s greatest moment into her worst nightmare.”

Menendez is pushing the Intellectual Property Rights Center and the White House to crack down on counterfeit gowns, WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.

“It’s time to get tough on these counterfeiters,” Menendez said.

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