Counterfeit Merchandise Seized in New York City,
Part 5 of Fake Designer Bags
>> I commonly get this question via email: "Why are fake bags illegal when you see them all over?" According to an article entitled Huge Haul of Counterfeits Seized in Warehouse (New York Times, 6/24/2005), so much counterfeit merchandise was seized during the week of June 20th that two, continuously-running, tractor-trailers were needed to haul the stash from a Manhattan warehouse to Smithtown, Long Island, where an incinerator is located.
Well, law enforcement officers are doing their best to clean up the situation, but they rely on individuals like you and me not to support the trade. That said, consider the following four busts made in New York between May and June:
This was one of the largest busts ever made in New York City of this type. The stash was housed in an old, multi-floored warehouse located at 1141 Broadway at 26th Street. Signs on that building indicate that counterfeit goods were stored by the Epoch USA Trading Corporation, although as of yet, the confirmed names of the crooks have not been published. So, where are fake bags sold when not on sidewalks or in parks? According to the article, Cops: Shop Clothes Are Status Faux (New York Post, 6/30/2005), one such shop was an unmarked store in a third-floor loft at 1 E. 28th Street. Empire Management, owned by Albert Hoffman of Ridgewood, raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars selling counterfeit Louis Vuitton and Coach Bags as well as counterfeit clothing by Sean Jean, Nike, and Rocawear.
Police found the cache while investigating a report of gunmen in the building. During their floor-by-floor search, they discovered "mountains of counterfeit caps, sweatshirts and other clothing bearing designer and sports-related logos on seven of the building's nine floors."
On Thursday (June 23, 2005), the police enlisted 30 Relocation Logistics moving company workers, who, together with ten officers, worked over 24 hours packing illegal goods bearing such brand names as Nike and Lacoste into black plastic garbage bags.
Ironically, the bags used to drag these counterfeits to the incinerator were the same type often used by illegal vendors who sell knock-off handbags and sports accessories in parks and on crowded sidewalks.
Raided by officers in the 13th Precinct, over 5,000 counterfeit items were seized. According to the article, Albert Hoffman screamed at the police "I am going to shoot and kill you" as they carted away his goods. Three counterfeiting charges were brought against Hoffman, with at least one of those charges associated with 15 years in the slam. Needless to say, he was also charged with menacing, putting an additional 90 days on the final count. Then there's the PRNewswire (Lacoste, 6/2/2005) which reported that over $1-million worth of counterfeit Lacoste products were picked up in multiple raids during the week of May 30. Caught were illegal wholesale and retail warehouses in Midtown Manhattan, netting almost 13,000 items. Congratulations to the New York City Police Department's 13th Precinct and the Mayor's Midtown Task Force in conjunction with Lacoste's private investigators for their great work.
But fake bags and clothing aren't the only types of counterfeit items being sold. On May 10, 2005, Federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security announced that they confiscated more than 1,300 counterfeit police badges representing over 35 agencies, including fake air marshal badges. The seizure was made in the Bronx apartment of Sergio Khorosh, a man whose online advertising as the owner of Pro Police Products lead police to his door.
To see for yourself how pervasive counterfeiting is, check out the weekly crime statistics at www.goldsec.com
So what do busts like these mean to consumers who think that buying illegal merchandise is OK just because the police aren't there?
Counterfeiting is crime mixed up with guns, grand theft, money laundering, pick pocketing, and identity theft, to name just a few problems. Under no circumstance does a warehouse full of illegal stuff ever yield a good deal for consumers or their community, no matter what the price tags say.
Unfortunately, small time crooks, like the ones pictured here (fall 2003), are a common sight on busy streets and in parks. Consider that on June 30th, I saw three different pairs of men schlepping black garbage bags in cardboard cartons, with one pair attempting to set up shop on a sidewalk near Lexington and 56th Street, much to the annoyance of a legal street vendor nearby.
On Canal Street, however, things seem to have simmered down. While shopping in the area with a friend last week, for example, neither of us saw knock-offs. Unfortunately, we did hear hawkers shout "Louis Vuitton Louis Vuitton" at the intersection of Canal Street and Broadway. And just west of that intersection, on both sides of Broadway, ongoing three-card Monty and shell games held the attention of assorted onlookers. . .
Questions or comments?
|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
The 6/24/2005 New York Times article referenced here was written by Anthony Ramirez, with photo by Robert Caplin. The 6/30/2005 New York Post article was written by Heidi Singer and Laura Italiano. This article, along with photos of illegal vendors taken in the fall of 2003, is by Karen Little. First published on 6/30/2005. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.