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The Counterfeit Trade

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Hard core criminals have turned to selling counterfeit merchandise ....

 

The public’s perception that counterfeiters are just some “poor guy trying to make a living” is wrong.  The IC Team has been included in several cases where counterfeit goods were being sold by convicted murderers, drug dealers, rapists, and child molesters.

Hard core criminals have turned to selling counterfeit merchandise because the penalties are much lighter than those for such traditional crimes; such as, drug dealing and robbery. The profits from the sales of counterfeit merchandise are equal to the profits that can be made from dealing drugs or other crimes. Because of this, there has been a huge increase in known gang members becoming involved in the sales of counterfeit and pirated merchandise. This has become the common place on the streets of Los Angeles.

Law Enforcement has arrested several individuals, who during the interview process have told them that they turned to selling counterfeit and pirated merchandise because they could make just as much money as selling drugs. As a two-time convicted felon told police, “ain’t no one going to prison for selling dvds.”

It is not only local street gangs that are involved in counterfeiting and piracy.  The larger criminal and terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, BTK, and the Triads, have also been known to sell and distribute counterfeit merchandise to raise funds for their causes.

Investigative Consulatants

According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), about 18 percent of the $98 million of counterfeit products seized by U.S. Customs were made up of fashion related items: apparel, sunglasses, watches, handbags and headwear.
 
* Counterfeiting robs the U.S. alone of more than $200 billion a year. It's a cash, tax-free business; legitimate citizens get stuck paying taxes, while counterfeiters line their pockets at your expense.
* Terrorists, gangs and organized crime syndicates all profit from selling counterfeit merchandise. There is evidence that the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 was funded by the sale of counterfeit goods.
 
The federal government has tightened its belt on counterfeiting since September 11, 2001, and this year President Bush signed HR 32, the "Stop the Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act," the most aggressive anti-counterfeiting legislation in more than 20 years. Highlights include: mandatory forfeiture, restitution and up to 20 years in prison and $15 million in fines for repeat offenders. It also closes a loophole that allowed counterfeiters to import counterfeit goods and their labels separately.

 
Naples Sun Times

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