June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
A FBI investigation into fake cosmetics lead agents to Rice’s Flea Market in Philadelphia this week. Local police and customs officials were present as they raided booths at the market and seized boxes of counterfeit cosmetics. All vendors are told that they are not allowed to sell counterfeits, but some decided to take the risk. Unfortunately those selling the counterfeit cosmetics were not arrested that day, only given a slap on the wrist. Fake beauty products from cosmetics to fragrances can contain harmful bacteria, toxins and even anti-freeze. It is not uncommon for consumers to have severe allergic reactions to these types of counterfeits.
“It’s potentially dangerous, and I know a couple stories of people who’ve gotten rashes from putting counterfeit perfumes on,” said one vendor, Vicki Cychowski. “The colors of the boxes are different and, a lot of the time, you can tell the color of the liquid is the wrong color,” she said.
The best way to spot fake products is to do your homework. Know what the packaging looks like. Should it have a shiny or matte finish? How is the logo placed? Are the products supposed to be named or numbered? Did the brand even make a color with that name? These are all question you should ask yourself when shopping for cosmetics at locations other than the brand’s official stores. Of course the easiest way to steer clear of fakes would be to shop directly from the brand or it’s trusted retailers every time.
April 20, 2011 § 6 Comments
This week two big seizures in the U.S. stand out to us. First, a counterfeit clothing ring in Chicago was busted by law enforcement. The counterfeiters worked several shops from the West to South sides of the city where over $150,000 in counterfeit clothing and shoes were confiscated. The 4,000 items included many Major League Baseball knockoffs as well as Timberland and Nike fakes. One of the nine men charged previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of a trademark and spent 6 months under court supervision. Maybe this time there should be a stricter punishment.
(Image from Chicago Tribune)
The second large seizure this week came from a flea market raid in South Carolina. 14 people renting space at the Anderson Jockey Lot (Belton flea market) have been charged in the sale of counterfeit recordings as well as illegal transportation, distribution or sale of counterfeit items. Law enforcement seized more than $250,000 in merchandise which included more than 9,000 DVDs, 1,000 CDs, Nike and Adidas footwear, MLB and NBA apparel, designer Coach, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbana handbags and other name brand clothing.
Remember, if you see a fake at a flea market or retail boutique, report it. These types of counterfeit goods take away taxes from your local economy, support gangs and terrorist organizations, and undermine the work of legitimate brands and designers.
January 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Everyone knows that you can find fakes on Canal Street in New York City, but more recently a surge of counterfeits have been reported in flea markets across the country. It is nothing new to anti-counterfeiting organizations and law enforcement that you can find counterfeit clothes, beauty products or other accessories at these markets. With counterfeits becoming more predominant at flea market vendors, authorities have launched a nationwide crackdown on those that sell fakes.
According to a recent USA Today article, in December alone, customs agents seized $250,000 worth of items at a swap-meet in New Orleans, $350,000 worth of goods at a flea market in Las Vegas, and $150,000 worth of merchandise at another flea market in Solebury, PA.
(Photo of counterfeit goods taken from USA Today article)
There are angry shoppers who report counterfeit items once they realize they have been duped, but many flea market attendees don’t care that they are buying counterfeits. During the Philly raid at the Rice Market, one shopper told The Intelligencer, “Most people know, but who cares?” Another woman was quoted saying, “I think Homeland Security can find better things to do.”
Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime. We talk a lot about child labor and sweatshops that sew the counterfeit clothes and handbags or copy the counterfeit CDs and DVDs, but consumers can be victims as well. Fake beauty products contain chemicals that don’t abide by health and safety standards. Faux fragrance often contain bacteria, urine and antifreeze. Counterfeit clothes can even be made with toxic dyes. All of these pose a serious risk to a shopper’s health. Think about the friends and family you could be harming if you give these products to someone as a gift.
The next time you are at a flea market and you spot a counterfeit, think about what your purchase is funding. Above all, if you spot a fake, report it to local law enforcement authorities.
December 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
The Department of Homeland Security has made great strides against the counterfeit industry this month. In two raids alone, they confiscated over $700K in counterfeit merchandise.
In Milwaukee, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers seized over $400K in counterfeit goods. Working with the CDP, DHL and FedEx facilities made over 80 seizures of goods including fake NFL jerseys, footwear, Tiffany jewelry and DVDs.
“These seizures represent the commitment by CBP in protecting the American consumer from receiving fraudulent, inferior and in many cases potentially dangerous products.” said David Murphy, CBP director of field operations in Chicago.
In New Orleans, over $250K was seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at a flea market. 16,171 pieces of counterfeit merchandise were confiscated including fake Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Oakley, Ray Ban, Coach, Chanel, Gucci, DVDs and CDs. ICE also found 3 DVD burners with the culprits and an additional 4,572 pieces of counterfeit merchandise worth $59,000 that were abandoned during the operation.
ICE is the largest division of the Department of Homeland Security that leads the U.S. in the fight against counterfeits. They work to target criminal organizations that smuggle, manufacture, and distribute counterfeit goods and we are eager to see what programs and technologies they will use to further their quest to end counterfeiting.