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Counterfeitting Activity in New York - Fake Handbags from January 2009 through January 2010

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 2/23/2010 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  Here is Littleviews annual summary on how the sale of fake bags and counterfeit items affect New York City. The period is from January 2009 through January 2010:

January 2009

Illegal toy gun related to the Ya Mei Trading warehouse rade, January 2009, as reported by The Village Voice

~ Over $10-million worth of counterfeit items were found during a raid of the Ya Mei Trading warehouse on Johnson Avenue in Bushwick. Knock-offs included Yankee gear, Disney, and Chanel items, plus gray market items not permitted for sale in the U.S. Over 2,000, illegal BB-guns, made to look like semi-automatic handguns, and unsafe household extension cords were especially troubling. Arrested were Fu Xian Bao and Xiao Ping Luo.

February 2009

~ The New York Times, in a winding article, summed up work being done to create the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) by 2010.

According to the New York Times, participants in the agreement do not speak publicly about their progress, but news continuously leaks out. One leak indicates that the U.S. backs a proposal to make Internet service providers responsible for what they sell, especially with regard to digital piracy, while the E.U. and other nations find this standard too strict. The French, for example, favor a "three strikes you are out" policy. Critics of the ongoing talks say that China, India, and Indonesia, who are not included, should be (Michael Geist, a law professor and blogger is quoted as writing, "Some might see it as an anti-counterfeiting deal without the counterfeiters."). Another criticism is that the trade agreement participants emphasize Internet dealings over physical trademark piracy and distribution of counterfeit goods, although a participant denies this. A big fear among Internet Service Providers, however, is that they'll be required to police themselves (much the same as bricks and mortar businesses must do). A year later, no agreement has been produced.

March 2009

Picture of van holding counterfeit items by Hagen for the New York Daily News, 3/29/09

~ As seven Chinatown vans loaded with counterfeit goods were busted, two counterfeit goods "bargain-hunters" were held hostage. The driver who took them hostage locked everyone inside his van, then ranted for two hours to the police that no one was going to get out. According to the police, the vans were mobile showrooms which parked daily at 5:30 AM around Lafayette Street. Police recovered 3,000 fake handbags worth around $125,000.

May 2009

~ Churches, charities, and hospitals were all ripped off through the cashing of counterfeit checks which were initially obtained from crooked bank tellers. The counterfeiters were finely apprehended after forging checks on an NYPD account!

~ Jasper Grayson and James Malloy were busted for stealing the identities of over 500 New Yorkers. Before being busted, the partners raked in over $1.4-million.

~ We just are not safe! eBay was recently cleared by a London judge, who ruled that eBay can't be held responsible for seven sellers who sold counterfeit merchandise through the eBay system. Gee, the next thing we'll hear is a ruling saying that large, bricks and mortar stores are no longer responsible for what their internal vendors sell. Can you imagine what life would be like if Macy's regularly sold hot or counterfeit goods?

Example of a Chanel ring.~ Chanel sued a famous French fashion house (Joseph Anthony) in New York City for selling counterfeit Chanel products. If found guilty, the Manhattan federal suit can demand up to $2-million for each counterfeit product sold.

~ Counterfeit money was discovered being passed at a Times Square peep-show by an alert stripper. Arrested was Michael Harris, of upper Manhattan.

~ Even the President of the United States can't avoid being drawn into fraudulent activities. Would you believe that some savvy crook painted President Obama's image on approximately 100,000 fake Nike's? That is a two-for-one criminal activity! Obama's image cannot be used on anything unless permission is authorized by the President, himself. With that in mind, a brewery in Red Hook, Brooklyn, had to stop selling Obama-branded beer.

June 2009

~ Ever hear of a building collapsing in New York City due to poor materials? And just how safe is New York's subway and bus system from mechanical defects? Hopefully, in the future, everything will be better. ABEC Industries, a well-known, New York City industrial-supply firm, recently plead guilty to selling counterfeit parts to the city as well as to building contractors. Scary!

~ Found, truly bad money! A Long Island counterfeiter misspelled words on a $100 bill, which was discovered by a sandwich shop clerk who alerted the police.

A New York MTA vending machine~ NYC Transit Authority MetroCard (MTA) vending machines can dispense up to $6 (in $1-coin denominations) for each cash transaction. This can trigger a significant loss when counterfeit bills are used to fool the system. To fight counterfeiting, NYC Transit will spend $3.3-million to upgrade vending equipment in order to stem its annual $60-million loss from funny-money.

~ Gucci and other major brands asked a U.S. District Court (Manhattan) judge to hold the Bank of China in contempt for failing to turn over documents related to another lawsuit in which the designers won a $4.3-million judgement against Chinese counterfeiters. According to Bloomberg, even though the brands did win the judgement, $4-million was unsatisfied. The plaintiffs now seek to establish a money-trail. While in 2008, the bank did pay $190,000 to settle charges lodged against the Chinese site, MyReplicaHandbag.com (among several), it is now ignoring new requests for information.

July 2009

~ Step into counterfeit shoes? Brands, such as hyper-expensive Christian Louboutins, were found to be widely advertised at bargain prices. According to the New York Daily News, the counterfeit shoe "'leather' often smells of toxic chemicals, the 'hand-stitching' is replicated by sewing machine, and the sizing is inaccurate." Other crimes committed by the manufacture of counterfeit shoes include prostitution, child labor, and money laundering. This is not a good way to treat your feet!

~ Anything can be reproduced, including city parking permits. In July, a city employee trying to avoid a summons used a counterfeit parking permit and agency letterhead to beat the rap. He didn't and it cost him $10,000.

~ If you transport illegal merchandise, drive carefully! According to the New York Post, a van carrying "millions of dollars in knock off jewelry and handbags" was stopped when it drove through a red light. The stash included Tiffany-labeled jewelry, 3,000 counterfeit designer handbags, and 2,000 counterfeit designer wallets.

August 2009

~ Sara Jessica Parker, who has her own line of "Sex and the City" perfumes, sued Universal Perfumes and Cosmetics for decoding the fragrances and selling the counterfeit results.

September 2009

~ Arrested on cigarette tax stamp counterfeiting were 21 people, 11 of whom live in New York. The gang stored legitimate cigarettes in a Yonkers warehouse, then applied phony tax stamps to them, netting more than $800,000 a week in illegal income. According to the New York Post, this group also dealt with prostitution, gun-running and, perhaps, terrorism.

~ eBay lost to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in a French Court. The court ruled that eBay inadequately policed itself. In 2008, LVMH also won a $61-million judgment against eBay for selling counterfeit items online. While France holds a hard line on counterfeiting, eBay lobbied the European Union, which identifies where luxury retailers can legally sell products, to scrap those rules.

November 2009

~ The Yankee World Series inadvertently encouraged the sale of counterfeit tickets, some of which sold at $400 each.

~ Even safe sex may not be safe! The New York Daily News reported that a factory in China counterfeited brand-name condoms, producing rubbers of questionable quality. Counterfeited brands included Durex, Rough Rider, Jissbon, Six Sense, and Love Card.

~ An expert in selling counterfeit cigarettes, Gui Hong Chen of Elmhurst, NY, now owes $19-million on cigarette taxes - while the scam lasted, Mr. Chen made money on the counterfeit cigarettes and counterfeit tax stamps.

December 2009

~ A seemingly abandoned van in Times Square shut down the streets in that area for approximately two days due to the a possibility of a bomb threat. Instead of a bomb, containers of knock-off Burberry scarves were found.

~ Bargain-hunters (or rather people who love to buy illegal stuff) were incensed when New York City confiscated over $1-million worth of counterfeit handbags and other items in Chinatown. This included shutting down ten buildings on Canal Street, which housed 31 stalls full of counterfeit items. Brand names included Chanel, Gucci, Coach, and Cartier. (Note that today, you'll find more bank buildings than stores in the area; a questionable improvement.)

~ Ug! This Christmas season, Ugg boots were a hot, counterfeit item. According to the New York Post, Ugg's distributor says it "identified more than 2,000 websites selling phony Uggs."

~ A Flushing, NY, Karaoke bar was shut down for selling drugs and counterfeit cigarettes (19 packs of cigarettes bearing counterfeit Virginia tax stamps). About 35 people were arrested during the sting, three of whom attacked a police officer involved in the shut-down.

January 2010

Example of a Yu-Gi-Ho! card by Konami

~ The baseball card manufacturer, Upper Deck, was sued by the Japanese company, Konami. Konami charged that Upper Deck illegally printed and distributed over 600,000 of Konami's popular Yu-Gi-Ho! cards.

~ Over $750,000 worth of counterfeit products - NBA and NFL T-shirts and designer handbags - were seized. Arrested for this crime were Alia Farhat and Hussien Kaseem, Alejandra Flores, and José Perez.

~ What with unemployment being so high, resources, such as used clothing, need to get into deserving hands. Do we then congratulate the City of New York for sending confiscated, counterfeit clothing to not-for-profit organizations for distribution? Hummm. My understanding is that some of the major brands injured by counterfeiting allow contraband in their names to be given to charities. If this is true, then for those of you who are always on the lookout for such stuff, start checking New York's non-profit resale stores, especially after a big counterfeit clothing bust.

~ Oy! According to publication's surveyed for this article, counterfeit perfume may contain urine (!), bacteria, and antifreeze. Be careful about what you put on your skin, and to protect yourself, buy skin-care products from reputable dealers. (But, I ask, of all the things that can be put in counterfeit perfume, why use urine? At least, the counterfeiters who reproduced Sara Jessica Parker's line of fragrances had the decency to decode Parker's alluring scent and turn out a similar product.)


The information above was gleaned from:

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

Read Littleviews' Series on Fake Bags and Counterfeiting in NYC:

Copies are a Canal Street specialty, 7/6/03

How real designer bags compare with fakes, 8/6/03

Pictorial essay on illegal activity, 9/18/03

Learn about a TimeOut New York article on this subject, 9/26/04

Counterfeit merchandise seized in New York City, 6/30/05

Fake drugs, wine, handbags, and designer goods in New York City, 10/3/2006

Fake bags and counterfeiting in 2007 in New York City, 12/8/2007

Louis Vuitton Wins Federal Counterfeit Case in Manhattan Court, 10/26/2008

Counterfeitting Activity in New York - January 2009 through January 2010, 2/23/2010

Article by Karen Little. First published on 2/23/2010. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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