US Officials Seize $100 Million in Counterfeit Merchandise

Last month, federal officials cracked down on West Coast shop owners who allegedly sell counterfeit merchandise.

In one of the largest federal enforcement actions ever taken against West Coast retailers suspected of selling counterfeit designer apparel and accessories, the authorities seized approximately $100 million worth of counterfeit merchandise and charged the owners, operators and employees of eight shops in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf district with a 25-count indictment.

According to a press release, the designer fakes, which were illegally imported from China, included clothing, handbags and wallets, jewelry and watches, scarves, sunglasses and shoes --all bearing the labels of more than 70 well-known designer brands. Among the brands were a number of US-based companies like Oakley, Dooney and Bourke, Nike, Coach and Kate Spade, and foreign designers such as Armani, Burberry, Prada and Louis Vuitton. Affidavits filed in connection with the case describe multiple instances where clerks at the targeted stores acknowledged to ICE undercover agents posing as customers that the merchandise they were buying was counterfeit.

For some interesting insight into the manufacturers who supply counterfeit merchandise, check out a recent article in The New York Times, Inside the Knockoff-Tennis-Shoe Factory. The author points out that for the past four years counterfeit footwear has topped the seizure list of the US customs service --and that as the counterfeiters become more adept at their processes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish fake items from real ones. The article takes you inside a Chinese sneaker factory that "specializes" in counterfeiting. It provides an insider's view and underscores the incredible challenge manufacturers and federal authorities face as they try to stay one step ahead of today's counterfeiters.

TAGS: Finance
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