NY’s New Year’s Resolution? Less Fakes

January 7, 2009 § Leave a comment

The New York City police force started 2009 off with a big message to Canal Street vendors who peddle counterfeit “designer” goods—not in this town. Beginning in early December, city inspectors and police officers made a series of raids, the largest of which was on 424 Broadway, a mini-mall housing thousands of counterfeit handbags and other merchandise valuing over $1 million dollars.

Officers not only uncovered sacks of knockoff goods, but terrible working conditions that endanger the lives of those who work in the building making and selling counterfeit goods.

“It’s a firetrap,” said Edward Mungin, an inspector with the Department of Buildings assigned to the enforcement unit. “Space heaters, hanging lights, everything about this location is illegal.”

The raid was just the latest in a concerted effort to close down counterfeit operations in what has become known as the “counterfeit triangle,” in New York City—the blocks between Walker, Canal, and Center Streets. Last year, the city made 2,729 arrests for trademark counterfeiting in a bid to rid New York of poorly made—and illegal—goods.

New York isn’t the only city taking note of the sharp rise in counterfeiting in the last decade—Los Angeles similarly raided multiple downtown LA locations throughout the holiday season in what they dubbed Operation Clean Sweep. The program yielded 28 arrests, 200,000 counterfeit apparel items worth $2.7 million dollars. Los Angeles businesses lose $5.2 billion annually to the counterfeit market, according to the Los Angeles Anti-Piracy Task Force.

While counterfeiting has grown recently—encompassing everything from faulty car parts to fake chocolate—local governments have stepped up with special task forces created specifically to fight fakes.

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