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Bagging Criminal Counterfeiting
By Brian Noyes
This week, Long Island authorities uncovered “one of the biggest counterfeit rings they have ever seen” responsible for pushing fakes on consumers from coast to coast. In addition to importing ill-begotten goods from China, this expansive and sophisticated criminal network also owned and operated machinery to facilitate trademark counterfeiting here on U.S. soil.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a mom-and-pop shop. Authorities warn that those fakes you find in your local nail salon or street corner could be part of a bigger, more organized crime ring with national and international ties, as was the case in this episode. The Queens warehouses full of illegal handbags, apparel, and other goods were just the gateways in connecting foreign counterfeiters with consumers around the country, from California to Florida to Ohio.
Ironically, or sadly, the consumers purchasing these falsely branded knock-offs, are not just buying bad products. They are also providing the cash to fuel other illicit efforts. All the while, consumers are getting ripped off and the reputations and incomes of legal, law-abiding businesses are being damaged.
Counterfeiting is an extremely lucrative enterprise and in some instances, revenues have even surpassed the drug trade. Unfortunately, this attractive paycheck makes this Queens operation seem like just a drop in the bucket. Day-in and day-out shipping containers filled with massive quantities of knockoff are making it through our ports, airports, and post offices and the proceeds then the make it back into the hands of organized crime.
The scab on our economy is huge, but not untreatable. Thankfully we have partners at federal and local enforcement agencies that are at the front of this war on fake goods, but more needs to be done. We must better utilize this first line of defense and ensure they have the proper tools and dedicated resources to even give them a shot a making a dent in this $650 billion illicit trade.