Counterfeiters Target Obama and Nike
Saying that the
manufacturing and selling of counterfeit goods is big business would be the understatement of the year. It’s
really big business.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, between 5% and 7% of world trade comprises counterfeit products, totaling
about $500 billion.
New York City is undeniably one of the country’s counterfeiting hotbeds, so much so that Mayor Michael Bloomberg dubbed several blocks of the City’s famed Chinatown section as “Counterfeit Triangle” after a counterfeit ring was thwarted last year. In Manhattan alone,consumers buy about $23 billion worth of faux merchandise, according to statistics.
Earlier this year, New York law enforcement officials cracked down on a major counterfeiting ring where police seized more than 100,000 pieces of merchandise valued at about $20 million. The items, manufactured in China and smuggled to the USA, were being stored at and sold from about 118 storage units in a Brooklyn, NY storage facility. In this particular case, the buyers were not the average consumers looking to save a bunch of money on products they could never legitimately afford; rather, local retailers with stores most likely in New York’s five boroughs purchased the goods to sell to consumers, unsuspecting or otherwise.
The investigation began after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office learned that the storage facility was being used as a “citywide hub” for counterfeit dealers. Over the course of a year, investigators witnessed thousands of fake Nike sneakers being delivered to and sold from the facility on a daily basis. Investigators also purchased many of the imitation items.
“These arrests diminish a criminal enterprise that victimized individual consumers, who were defrauded with bogus merchandise, and the legitimate retail industry that lost sales to counterfeit vendors,” NY State Police Superintendent Harry J. Corbitt said.
While officials would not comment on the quality of the seized imitation goods, they indicated that they had required an expert to identify the products as counterfeit.
Among the items were fake Gucci, Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Prada handbags, Diesel Jeans, Timberland boots, Afflicationaand Ed Hardy T-shirts, and, most surprisingly, 17 pairs of fake Nike sneakers bearing the image of Barack Obama.
“In these tough economic times, people deserve to know that, when they spend money, the goods they buy are real,” said Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. Selling counterfeit products cheats customers out of a right to know what they are buying and cheats manufacturers out of their fair earnings,” Hynes added.
While greed is typically a major impetus supporting the counterfeit trade, Kessler International has witnessed a sharp increase in the purchase of counterfeit goods due the weak economic conditions that preclude consumers from affording the luxury goods they desire.