Are Cheap Designer Knockoffs Funding Illegal Activity
Forking over $40 for a designer knockoff may seem harmless enough, even thrifty. But would you still do it if you knew that your money was going to support illegal drug trade or terrorism? In part two of her three part series NY1’s Solana Pyne takes a look at the dark side of the counterfeit trade.
The holiday shopp louis vuitton outlet ing season is in full swing. In Chinatown, that means lots of black plastic bags filled with Louis Vuitton, Coach, Chanel, and Gucci bags fake ones.
Fake designer bags are easy to find, especially in Chinatown. It’s something that makes designers furious, but most shoppers that we spoke to blame it on the designers themselves.
“They should lower their prices,” says shopper Karen DiPietro. “Then people wouldn’t do this.”
But would people still buy counterfeit bags if they knew who’s cashing in on the fakes?
Private investigator Shawn Lewis is paid by name brand companies to investigate counterfeiters. He says buying a knockoff bag is like giving money to someone asking a much more disturbing question.
“Please make donations for child labor, organized crime and terrorism,” says Lewis. “Nobody is going to put any money into that kettle. But when they buy a handbag for $35 that’s a fake, that’s exactly what they’re doing.”
The FBI says that it is concerned that cash from the counterfeit trade could fund terrorism. But, as of yet, there is no evidence directly linking these sales to terrorist acts.
What has been documented, how louis vuit louis vuitton outlet ton outlet ever, is th louis vuitton outlet at counterfeits are cash cows for organized crime. A group of gang members were indicted in November 2004 for attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, alien smuggling, and conspiracy to take hostages, as well as trafficking in counterfeit goods. Customs officer John Pfeifer.
Investigator Lewis put us in touch with an informant a man who works for counterfeiters of designer bags and clothing. He described the conditions where bags like these are made. The informant asked to remain anonymous, saying he feared for his life.
“There’s a lot the mistreating of the workers. There’s a lot of sexual harassment toward them, because there’s a lot of immigrants,” says the informant.
“I seen them beat people to the point where they’re completely, like, knocked out, with bats and stuff like that.”
In this case, crime pays.
The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeit goods make up 6 percent of gross world trade with the bulk of the fakes coming to the United States.