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.
June 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
This week in the fight against counterfeiting led to multiple arrests, seizures and partnerships:
- Atlantic City, New Jersey law enforcement seized $150,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise from boutiques along the Atlantic City boardwalk. A total of 3,530 purses, wallets, clutches, bags, belts, shoes, scarves, belt buckles, jewelry, watches and leather goods also were seized. Via Press of Atlantic City.
- Unilever announced it has pledged to support National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in the fight against counterfeit products in the Nigerian market. Via Business Day.
- Police arrested and charged a man for unlawful use of unidentified sound recordings. 3,100 illegal DVDs valued at $7,800 were recovered. Via Plainfield Blotter.
- Counterfeit alcohol served on a cruise in Turkey led to the hospitalization of 30 Russian tour guides and one killed. Doctors said the poisoning was from highly toxic methanol, or methyl alcohol. Via Bloomberg News.
- The Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency asked the Kenyan government for more funds this week to up its staff and intensify research, which would help deal with counterfeit cases and thwart counterfeiters in Kenya. Via The Standard.
- Toyota in Nigeria launched an anti-counterfeiting campaign against fake automobile parts. Counterfeit spare parts could result in short life span of engines due to wear, frequent visits to a mechanic, high maintenance costs and unguaranteed safety and security of the vehicle. Via PM News.
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.
March 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
CHINA HAS A BAD REPUTATION AS BEING ONE OF THE leading sources in counterfeit manufacturing. Everything from counterfeit clothes to fake pharmaceuticals and electronics have been sourced from China. Starting last October, Chinese authorities began the largest crackdown the country has seen in a very long time. From seizures of counterfeit products to thousands of arrests, police and customs officials are taking no prisoners.
(Image taken from here)
According to a recent Fox News article, Chinese authorities have arrested over 3,000 people and shut down 292 websites selling counterfeit and fake goods. They expect these numbers to continue to rise. The American Chamber of Commerce in China says 70 percent of its member companies consider Beijing’s enforcement of patents, trademarks and copyrights ineffective. The article also mentions that rampant copying has hampered Beijing’s efforts to attract technology industries because businesspeople say companies are reluctant to do high-level research in China or bring in advanced designs for fear of theft. The Chinese are fully aware of their reputation regarding the fake trade, but law enforcement has promised the public that their current anti-counterfeiting campaign will continue to grow, produce lasting results and reduce the number of criminals.
Hopefully this latest campaign will push China away from being one of the top producers of counterfeit products and establish the country as a more reputable source for manufacturing and for doing business in general.
February 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
In honor of Valentine’s Day, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement led a huge online seizure of domain names selling counterfeit accessories. The customs agents previously bought counterfeit bracelets, earrings, handbags, rings, sunglasses, wallets and watched from sites and later determined that many of the sites sold fakes. Titled appropriately as Operation Broken Hearted, it was meant to protect consumers from counterfeit Valentine’s Day products. As a result of the investigation, 18 websites’ domain names were seized without any previous warning in order to save valentines from buying fakes for their sweethearts.
“Even on Valentine’s day, American business is under assault from counterfeiters and pirates,” said ICE Director John Morton. “These counterfeits represent a triple threat by delivering shoddy, and sometimes dangerous, goods into commerce, by funding organized criminal activities and by denying Americans good-paying jobs. HSI and our partners at the IPR Center will continue to work together to keep counterfeit products off our streets.”
February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
A recent raid in Los Angeles this month by the L.A. Port Police led to a seizure of over $10 million in Apple Inc. products. Through deep investigation, authorities unveiled the sophisticated warehouse operation. Chief of the L.A. Port Police force told the Los Angeles Times this week, “This was a well-funded operation, and the counterfeits looked very authentic.” The goods were shipped from Asia and arrived to the United States in parts then assembled here and labeled appropriately.
(Image taken from LA Times article)
The Los Angeles Times stated that the Port of Los Angeles and the neighboring Port of Long Beach make up the nation’s busiest harbor for trade with Asia. This is where law enforcement works the hardest to stop counterfeits from entering the country. This particular investigation not only involved L.A. Port Police, but the Department of Homeland Security and Border Enforcement Security Task Force as well. We have said many times that counterfeiters are getting smarter at their criminal business. It is taking multiple government agencies to crack down on more sophisticated, well thought out operations such as this one.
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.