Entries in Counterfeit (3)


Chicago Chef Sued for Selling Counterfeit Wine Bottle

Photo by Jacob Andrzejczak/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two wine collectors from New York City have filed suit against famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter for selling them a counterfeit bottle of wine for $46,227.40.

The collectors, a married couple, filed the suit on June 13 in U.S District Court in Northern Illinois. They are seeking over $75,000 in damages: In addition to $30,000 worth of punitive damages, they want the $46,227.40 back.

When reached by ABC News, the couple declined to comment and asked that their names not be revealed for privacy purposes.

Trotter operated Charlie Trotter’s, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago. ABC7 in Chicago reported that Trotter closed his restaurant in the summer of 2012 to attend graduate school. According to the restaurant’s website, it has received awards and citations from the James Beard Foundation, the Wine Spectator and Restaurant Magazine.

It was these accolades that took the couple there when they flew to Chicago in June 2012. In addition to sampling the food, they wanted to buy a bottle of Burgundy from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti to add to their wine collection. The court documents maintain that this type of wine is among the most valuable in the world.

They purchased a 1945 DRC Magnum for $46,227.40, according to the court documents. But when they wanted to add the bottle to their homeowners’ insurance, they were told to verify its authenticity.

They contacted Maureen Downey, a San Francisco based wine consultant, who said the wine was counterfeit.

Downey told ABC News that she was skeptical of the bottle because it was a magnum, which is equivalent to two bottles. She said Domaine de la Romanee-Conti only produced two barrels—roughly 50 bottles—of wine in 1945.

“The chance that they would make large formats [of the wine] when they were in postwar shambles is not very high,” she said.

Downey also said the photographs of the wine bottle that the couple sent her were identical to the photographs of another client.

“The details are the same with the fake aging. They have both been allegedly faded to make it look as though they have been aged and it’s just not probable that these two different bottles would look so exactly the same,” she said.

Trotter has refused to cancel the sale with the couple, according to court documents. He could not be reached for comment.

Vincent Louis DiTommaso, the couple’s attorney, told ABC News that he attempted to resolve the dispute outside of court but was unable to do so.

“I am just surprised because to me we had clear evidence of just showing that the wine was a fake, and to me the right thing to do is give the person their money back and be done with it,” DiTommaso said.

John Riccione, who DiTommaso said had been representing Trotter, was out of the office until Monday and could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


20,000+ Counterfeit Christian Louboutin Shoes Confiscated

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- If you find a pair of those trendy red-bottom heels for a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confiscated 20,457 pairs of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.

“They label the shipments as generic shoes when, in fact, they’re bringing over contraband,” said Jaime Ruiz, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

According to the CBP, the knock-off shoes that were transported in five different shipments on a cargo ship in large boxes from China had a domestic value of more than $57,000, meaning it cost just less than $3 per pair to make them.

Officials said there were enough of those red soles to add up to a suggested retail value of $18 million, an unbelievable profit.

“The original [Christian Louboutin] shoe is made in Italy,” said chief CBP officer Guillermina Escobar. “Once we saw it was coming in from China, we knew there was a problem with the shipment.”

Officials took pictures of the shoes and consulted with the trademark holder to authenticate the shoe. Once they learned they were counterfeit, the hot commodities were taken off the black market and placed into the border patrol’s possession.

Had the shoes slipped through the cracks, Escobar said, they would likely have been sold on illegitimate websites and underground outlets, some of which may fail to mention the shoes are counterfeits.

The CBP said it will destroy the more than 20,000 pairs of high-fashion shoes, likely by burning them.

Escobar said a total of three different importers shipped the counterfeits on July 27 and Aug. 14 of this year.

The incident is still under investigation but the importers will likely be charged with a trademark violation.

CBP officials said there were 24,792 seizures of counterfeit and pirated goods in the 2011 fiscal year.

One thousand twenty of those trade seizures had a domestic value exceeding $37 million and all took place in the greater Los Angeles area.

“This represents an 18 percent increase in the number of seizures from fiscal year 2010,” said Escobar.

The CBP said it knows what hot commodities are coming in to the United States and will make sure to keep an eye out for any more counterfeits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Three Women Arrested in Massive Counterfeit Coupon Ring

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Phoenix police have arrested three women believed to be involved in the largest counterfeit coupon scam in U.S. history.

The Phoenix Police Department, aided by the Coupon Information Corporation and some of the at least 40 wronged manufacturers, conducted an investigation to end the scam that police say has been operating for at least four years.

In the past four years, manufacturers became aware that copies of their coupons were being produced. They asked for the help of private investigators and the Coupon Information Corp. to find the source of the copies.

The investigation led them to Phoenix, where the properties of Robin Ramirez, Amiko Fountain, and Marilyn Johnson were raided Tuesday.

Investigators found $25 million in forged coupons in those raids. “That’s $25 million worth of counterfeit just sitting around their daily operations on a random day. You have to wonder how much money passed through their business,” said Bud Miller, executive director of Coupon Information Corp.

Police learned that Ramirez, who they consider the ringleader, had been mailing valid coupons to an international source that counterfeited mass quantities of them. The forged coupons were primarily sold on Ebay and her website,

These coupons offered large discounts on products, even making some free, resulting in catastrophic losses for the manufacturers.

Police don’t yet know how enormous those losses are, and probably won’t for a while given the scale of this operation. Investigators found that Ramirez had at least four online accounts and 12 bank accounts.

“The Coupon Information Corp. says that manufacturers are losing tens of millions of dollars in coupon fraud. We’re finding evidence that makes [Ramirez] a main player in this type of fraud,” Holmes said.

Miller echoed how enormous this scam was. “Make no mistake, this was run as a business. These were not amateurs.”

Ramirez is being held in jail on a $450,000 bond, while Fountain and Johnson have $250,000 bonds. None of the women have criminal records.

The charges they face include fraud, forgery, counterfeiting and operating a criminal enterprise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio