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Entries in Counterfeit (10)

Thursday
Mar072013

Border Agents Seize Counterfeit Handbags Worth $14M

Ben Pruchnie/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- Customs and border patrol officers have intercepted some bogus bags that could have fetched a hefty price.  
 
They may look like high-end Hermes handbags, but customs agents at the Port of Los Angeles seized 1,500 fakes, bearing counterfeit Hermes tags.

Port Director Carlos Martel told ABC News the bogus bags came in two shipments from China. That's where most of the goods seized by his agents are made, including knock off TVs, fake car parts, and phony perfume.  

Counterfeit seizures have jumped 142 percent since 2011.  

“Once again, this seizure demonstrates the high level of skill and vigilance of our officers in protecting the intellectual property rights of companies and individuals, as well as, preventing the proliferation of counterfeit luxury handbags, potentially damaging our national economy,” said Todd C. Owen, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Office Los Angeles.

With an authentic Hermes bag being worth thousands of dollars, agents say this bust is worth up to $14 million on the street.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan072013

Feds: Counterfeit Money Being Made with Everyday Office Equipment

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of counterfeit dollars are flooding cash registers, and more often than not, this “funny money” is being manufactured using everyday office equipment, federal authorities said.

Heath Kellogg, a graphic artist known as “The Printer,” his father and four other men were busted in November after authorities said the men produced more than a million dollars in counterfeit bills.

The operation was shockingly simple.  Kellogg, who is a self-taught graphic artist, and his team, allegedly used a printer to produce the front of fake $50 bills and printed the back of the bills separately before carefully gluing it all together.

“It’s easier today because the technology has gotten so good and people can make better fakes,” said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News consultant.

How-to guides, easily found on the Internet, guide people through the counterfeiting process.

A Rhode Island man was arrested in November after he allegedly learned how to use a chemical soap to rub off the ink on $5 bills, turning them into counterfeit $100 bills.

Despite the flood of fakes, the government said new security features on money, such as color shifting numbers and portrait watermarks that show the same face that’s on the front of the bill, do make a difference.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Hundreds of Fake Heinz Ketchup Bottles Discovered in New Jersey

Dover Code Enforcement Department(DOVER, N.J.) -- Hundreds of crates purported to be Heinz ketchup was discovered in a Dover, N.J. warehouse, which officials said may have been repackaged to sell for a profit.

Other tenants who rent the space in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse noticed that bottles of ketchup were exploding.

Heinz said fake ketchup bottles were labeled as Heinz's "Simply Heinz," its premium brand that uses sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, which is found in its traditional version.

Dover Public Safety Director Richard Rosell told the Star-Ledger newspaper in New Jersey that the ketchup's sugars, mixed with acid from tomatoes and vinegar, had fermented in the heat and exploded.  Tenants noticed the mess, and officials and Heinz were eventually contacted.

Jessica Jackson, a spokeswoman for Heinz North America, said the company "has not discovered any information that leads us to believe that the illegally repackaged product is on the market."

"Based on our preliminary investigation, it appears that the unauthorized operation purchased traditional Heinz ketchup and then repackaged the product illegally," Jackson said in a statement.

"As a company dedicated to food safety and quality, Heinz will not tolerate illegal repackaging of our products and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who engages in such illicit behavior," Jackson said.  "As the world's leading manufacturer of ketchup, Heinz has stringent manufacturing and packaging practices in place to ensure the safety of consumers.  Our quality assurance systems also ensure traceability to the factories where Heinz ketchup is manufactured and packaged."

The space was leased by Wholesome Foods, LLC, who could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Airbag Knockoffs Fail in Crash Test Videos

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Causing a fire, not deploying or partial deployment are not how you would like to have your airbag described, but those are the words U.S. Department of Transportation administrators used Wednesday when explaining the dangers behind a stream of counterfeit airbags.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and ICE officials Wednesday warned consumers about counterfeit airbags made at overseas manufacturers and installed in cars throughout the U.S. The counterfeits have been found in more than 75 different makes and models, both domestic and internationally made cars, and could affect thousands of individuals.

 

Investigators cautioned that even though this affects less than 0.1 percent of vehicles, the danger to those vehicles is extreme, including airbags not deploying, partially deploying or catching fire. So far they are unaware of any death or injury from the counterfeit airbags.

Earlier this year ICE arrested and convicted a Chinese counterfeiter who was found with nine different brands of airbags. And just this year have confiscated more than 2,500 fake bags.

ICE Director John Morton explained that the counterfeits were manufactured overseas, fraudulently labeled and then illegally imported into the country.

"These seemingly genuine airbags are in fact shoddy fakes that pose a significant safety hazard when it's installed," he said. "These airbags don't work. They aren't going to save you in an accident, they are a fraud and danger from start to finish, and you don't want them in your car."

Consumers are at risk if:

  • They have had the airbag replaced in the last three years at a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership.
  • Purchased a used car that had its airbag replaced.
  • Own a car branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.
  • Got a "too good to be true" deal for airbag replacement.
  • Purchased their airbag from eBay, Craigslist or other non-certified outlet.

Because these faulty bags are not the fault of car manufacturers or dealers, this is not a mandatory recall and consumers would pay out of pocket to replace the airbag.

"They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag," David Strickland, a NHTSA administrator, said.

Officials urge anyone who has suspicions about their airbags to take their car to an expert for testing and replacement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Bloomingdale’s Security Boss Accused of Passing Counterfeit Money

Elizabeth Burks/Getty Images for Bloomingdale's(NEW YORK) -- Bloomingdale’s security boss Alice Butler was arrested after allegedly passing off fraudulent bills at the chain’s flagship store in New York.

Part of Butler’s job was to teach employees how to detect counterfeit money.

According to a report in the New York Post, Butler, 56, who has worked at the store for 17 years, passed out a pair of faux $100 bills while loading money onto her employee debit card on July 1.  The cashier -- whom Butler had personally trained -- noticed that the images on the ink were off-color and that the bills were blurry.  She called security, which called New York police.   A Secret Service agent was also brought in to verify that the bills were fake, the Post said.

Butler, who lives in New Jersey, was later arrested and released without bail on charges of petit larceny and forgery.

Butler’s lawyer, Mark Macron, insisted she is innocent.

“She says that she did nothing wrong and that the allegations are a mistake,” Macron told ABC News, adding that Butler has no prior criminal record.  “The attorney general and I are discussing a non-felony, non-jail plea disposition.”

Bloomingdale’s remained tight-lipped.

“We do not comment on pending litigation,” said Bloomingdale’s spokesperson Anne Keating.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar152012

After Fake Bills Passed, Girl Scouts Get Schooled by Secret Service

Giuliana Nakashima/The Washington Post/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Whether you prefer Do-Si-Dos or Thin Mints, almost everyone loves a Girl Scout cookie, but the annual fundraiser has created a spike in crime across the country this year that has even the Secret Service stepping in.

At least two troops on opposite sides of the U.S. have received counterfeit money in exchange for boxes of their cookies. Troop 60916 in Tynsborough, Mass., spent Sunday afternoon selling cookies, and took their $258 deposit to the bank when the teller told troop leader Dianna Mines that four of her $20 bills were fake.

"I was shocked," Mines told The Lowell Sun. "Girl Scouts is about trying to teach the girls how to be good members of the community. To be taken advantage of was just not right."

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts released a statement saying they are "understandably upset by the situation" and that "the council will work with the troop to resolve the discrepancy in funds."

But the Massachusetts troop wasn't the only one hit by counterfeiters. Scouts in the Central California South council based in Fresno, Calif., received a fake $100 bill in exchange for cookies, and their council store received two more.

"Sometimes you think $100 isn't a big deal, but, for that little girl selling cookies for hours or the volunteer giving their time, it's a lot," said Cathy Ferguson, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Central California South.

That's when the Secret Service stepped in, thanks to a troop dad who works with the agency. Agents conducted a workshop that taught staff members and troop leaders how to recognize phony money. They were told to look for three key signs: a watermark portrait to the right of the printed president's picture, a security strip on the left imprinted with the letters "USA" and the amount of the bill, and color-shifting numbers that can be detected when the bill is held at an angle in the light.

Ferguson said the money from the cookie sales stays within each individual troop to fund their programs so they are the ones that benefit from the hands-on training.

"It's not like they're taking money from the Girl Scouts of America. That little girl standing there with a smile on her face is the one they're ripping off," Ferguson said.

The CCS Council is made-up of more than 1,000 Girl Scouts troops, each consisting of anywhere from five to 12 girls.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar022012

Counterfeit Crackdown: Authorities Bust $325M Ring

Dept of Justice(NEW YORK) -- Arrests are being made across the country and around the world Friday in an operation to crack down on the smuggling of counterfeit goods.

Prosecutors and FBI agents in New Jersey have busted what they say was an attempt to smuggle $325 million worth of goods from China to a port in Elizabeth, N.J. The bust turned up knockoff UGG boots, Nike sneakers and Luis Vuitton handbags, among other products.

[ CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE COUNTERFEITS ]

More than 26 arrests have been made across New York, New Jersey, Texas, China and the Philippines in what prosecutors say is one of the largest counterfeit smuggling operations ever, with "drastic" economic consequences.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb152012

Police Bust Women In Alleged Counterfeit Nike Scheme

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Two South Carolina women were arrested in Georgia after what began as a traffic stop resulted in what police are calling a major bust of counterfeit goods.

Police in Gwinnett County, Ga., say they pulled over a Pontiac Grand Prix on Interstate 85 on Saturday after the vehicle was spotted traveling too close behind another vehicle. Two women were in the car, and during the traffic stop the driver reportedly admitted to having marijuana in the vehicle and allowed police to conduct a search, according to ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV.

Officers say they found 78 boxes of Nike sneakers, but upon looking at the footwear officers became suspicious. The serial numbers on the sneakers did not match those on the boxes, the Nike logos could be peeled right off, and on some of the sneakers the Michael Jordan logo had one too many fingers, police tell WSB-TV.

Kotina Lashan Feaster and Jessica Pennick were arrested and charged in connection with the discovery. At least one of the suspects claimed no knowledge of the goods being counterfeit.

"She came down from South Carolina to get all these shoes and then she drove back to SC to sell them," vehicle officer Nicholas Boney told WSB-TV.

Police estimate the goods retail at more than $12,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Private Eye Helps Police Bust Counterfeit Outlets

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.) -- Kris Buckner, a private investigator who specializes in tracking down counterfeit merchandise through his company Investigative Consultants, and police in Orange County, Calif., raided a store allegedly selling counterfeit goods in, of all places, a luxury mall.

Police arrested the store manager, who was accused of selling phony luxury brands such as Dior, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana merchandise as well as a huge stash of True Religion jeans, which had been on sale at the store for $199.

Buckner works for the brands themselves. In the case of the Orange County bust, Bucker's client was True Religion.

Investigative Consultants is one of just a few companies around the country that do this special kind of work and sometimes the brands themselves house their own special units to track counterfeiting.

Police say, however, that the damage inflicted by counterfeiting extends beyond the luxury brands whose goods are being duped.

"We notice that several gang members, organized crime and some terrorist groups are associated with distributing, manufacturing counterfeit goods. Now all this money is funding other criminal activities. That's why we're in this," said Sgt. Rick Ishitani, head of the Los Angeles Police Department Economic Crimes Unit. "It's not so much the Rolex, Gucci, the Chanel. They are technically our victims but the real mission is to take down criminals."

When Buckner brings a case to police, he says he works to ensure it's something worthwhile.

"Our job is to bring them something that they really will evaluate and the hope would be that they will take action. And I will tell you that the majority of the cases we do get prosecuted," he said. "In this economy, we don't want to waste their time."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov292010

Government Cracks Down on Sites Selling Counterfeit Goods

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation on Monday announced they have seized 82 domain names that were being used to sell counterfeit goods, including fake handbags, pirated software, copies of DVDs and phony Burberry scarves.  A lot of people wouldn't fall for the fakes, but enough would be satisfied with them that they stayed in business, until now.

A few of the seized URLs include dvdcollectionsale.com, coachoutletfactory.com, mydreamwatches.com, usaburberryscarf.com, burberryoutletshop.com, massnike.com.

"By seizing these domain names, we have disrupted the sale of thousands of counterfeit items, while also cutting off funds to those willing to exploit the ingenuity of others for their own personal gain,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “Intellectual property crimes are not victimless. The theft of ideas and the sale of counterfeit goods threaten economic opportunities and financial stability, suppress innovation and destroy jobs."

The government timed its announcement for Cyber Monday, and the effort is part of something called Operation in Our Sites.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio