Counterfeiting: It’s Bigger Than Handbags

November 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

We all know the dangers behind buying a counterfeit product; whether they are dangerous to our health, to the economy of a country or to the lives of children in developing nations. It has become quite evident that the sales from counterfeit goods fund child labor, sweat shops, drug cartels and even terrorism, but I am sure you all already knew that. Recently Mexican law enforcement officials conducted a raid of a Mexican drug cartel La Familia Michoacana, not to find drugs, guns or money, but to crack down on a counterfeit software ring.

A recent New York Times article references the raid in Mexico and shows that these types of criminal activities have a direct association with counterfeit goods. The children in sweat shops are sewing your fake bags and the counterfeit Microsoft Office Suite that you bought from an unauthorized website is being run by La Familia Michoacana, for example. It’s no secret that these criminals are looking for any way to make money and it looks like the new fad is counterfeiting. Not to mention that for drug cartels, it is seen as a low-risk, high-profit investment and a complement to their already criminal business.

In this particular case, over 300 officers raided the residence of the drug cartel and found 50 machines being used to counterfeit Microsoft CDs and Xbox video games. Although on a side note, Microsoft has found that thieves counterfeiting their software have included everyone from college students to grandmothers.

Microsoft has 10 crime labs battling counterfeiting globally. Counterfeiters get past Microsoft’s strict control over its partners who produce their CDs by stealing stampers and presses as well as presenting fake Microsoft paperwork. So how does Microsoft trick counterfeiters? They input a hologram film into a layer of lacquer on the CD. They also plant messages in the security thread that goes into the authenticity stickers. Because these counterfeiters have become so good at what they do, to the naked eye, there is not much of a difference between the counterfeit product and the authentic Microsoft CD. The only unique differences are those that can only be seen under a microscope.

(Photo taken from The New York Times article,Chasing Pirates: Inside Microsoft’s War Room”)

This New York Times article is a great example of the steps brands are taking to eliminate counterfeiting, but also how counterfeit goods (for all of you non-believers) are truly connected to criminal activities such as drug cartels.

Counterfeiting is a problem bigger than fake handbags alone. So we ask that the next time you purchase a product not directly from the brand (i.e street vendors, unauthorized websites or online auction sales), to do your homework and make sure you are not purchasing a counterfeit. Because we all know that the cost of supporting these criminal activities is not worth the purchase price. Visit us at for more information on how to spot counterfeit goods.


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