According to the New York Times (June 4, 2004), approximately
17 men were arrested in a "sting" to catch sellers of replica
handbags by famous designers. Smugglers paid one million dollars
to undercover operatives posing as corrupt customs agents. Forty
foot shipping containers were loaded with fake Louis Vuittons,
Cartiers, and Gucci handbags made in factories in China. These
purses were then sent to stores in Chinatown in New York City
through ports in New Jersey, where custom officials received
$50,000.00 each time a shipment was cleared.
Smuggling operations were conducted out of a storefront on
Canal Street where a second, hidden back room was filled with
designer fakes. The display wall in the "legitimate" store
contained a remote controlled door leading to the secret storage
filled with bags.
There is a difference between handbags that are obviously not
an original. For example, there are the designer fakes that have
an "LV" almost exactly mimicking a genuine Louis Vuitton and a
purse that has different initials but a similar design. Usually,
the craftsmanship is inferior in a knockoff designer bag -
puckered seams, low quality leather, and large and uneven
stitching. Another giveaway for fakes is the price. Real Louis
Vuitton handbags sell for about $500.00 to $1,000.00 or more and
a knockoff can be purchased for around $100.00 to $200.00 each.
Also, if you buy your purse out of the truck of a car, you can
pretty much bet it's not real!
Another raid was recently conducted in Connecticut at a local
flea market in Wellingford. Nine people were arrested for
selling counterfeit items including handbags and watches. A
total of 4,483 items were seized. A raid recently took place in
Dallas, Texas and $250,000.00 in goods were confiscated. This
store has over $100,000.00 in sales per month!
So what harm does it do to purchase a fake designer handbag?
There are a multitude of reasons to NOT buy knockoffs, beginning
with the fact that we, as taxpayers, carry the burden for this
tax-free business. According to government sources, 200 billion
is approximately the amount that counterfeiters do not pay -
this means that honest taxpayers make up the difference!
Another reason is organized crime. By purchasing a designer
fake, we are supporting illegal activity. There is even some
evidence that part of the money for bombing the World Trade
Center came from the sale of counterfeit goods. There is also
documentation that these purses are made by child laborers in
How do smugglers get around the law? One way is for designer
fake handbags to be imported without the labels. Customs will
not seize these purses without the designer labels because then
there is no proof. The tags are then added on the goods in this
country. Fines of not more than $250,000.00 and no more than 5
years in jail await these smugglers. The profits range in
millions of dollars per years.
If you want to help stop counterfeiters, you can report these
replica handbags at the genuine websites of all the handbag
designers such as Coach, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Dior, Gucci,
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