MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Two brothers have been arrested and charged on Long Island for operating what authorities called a sophisticated counterfeiting operation involving many popular health and beauty products.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Friday the arrests of Pardeep Malik, 59, and Hamant Mullick, 60, for making, packaging and selling $2 million worth of bogus goods.
Chapstick, Vicks VapoRub, Johnson’s Baby Oil and Vaseline were among the very popular products that Rice said the brothers were making in a warehouses on Long Island.
“It’s very scary. We have regulations for a reason, we don’t know if these were tested at all,” Andrea Bergin of Carle Place told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
“We expect to get what we pay for and it’s just disappointing,” Hewlett shopper Anna Gordon added.
The products were then sold to smaller stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.
“Counterfeit products such as these have the potential to pose health risks because of the ingredients used and the lack of proper sanitary controls under which they are produced. One of the things that we found is this book here, called The Formula for Lip Balm,” Rice said. “Fake purses and clothes are one thing. What’s so disturbing about this scheme is that it actually is counterfeiting products that people are putting on babies and inhalers that people are ingesting. Lip balms and Vicks VapoRub.”
Rice said authorities filled four tractor-trailers full of fake health, beauty and baby products that were seized from five locations.
An Oceanside warehouse was stocked with expertly forged labels and packaging, in addition to pots and pans of waxes and dyes.
“I think this is, hands down, one of the largest busts of this kind of counterfeit ring ever. We’re talking about millions of dollars,” said the DA.
The counterfeit products were brands owned by international corporations Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Procter and Gamble and Unilever.
“This is the first consumer product counterfeiting operation we’ve come across where they’re actually manufacturing,” John Clark of Pfizer Corporation said.
The DA’s office offered five tips to identify a fake:
- First look for obvious signs – a strange picture on the package, strange languages for your locale, strange colors, or strange typeface.
- If the illegitimate product is more sophisticated, however, it can be hard to tell from looking. The next best way is to consider the price paid. If the price was atypically low, without any kind of coupon or special promotion, then it may be illegitimate.
- Counterfeit products will not have the same quality or consistency of real products.
- Also look at the expiration date, as this can be another indicator of a fake.
- Try to shop at established and trusted stores, which are highly likely to be connected to legitimate supply chains.
Rice said officials are running tests to see if the products could pose health issues.
The scheme was uncovered following a fire at one of the warehouses last April. During a follow-up visit from the fire marshal, officials stumbled upon the counterfeiting operation, Rice said.
Malik and Mullick were arraigned on several counterfeiting charges and had bail set at $100,000 each.
At arraignment, their sons defended their dads as reputable businessmen and lawyers said the charges are trumped up.
“He’s a business owner here in Nassau County. Never been arrested in his life. The prosecutors are blowing this up, I think,” defense attorney Michael Brown said.
The defendants are due back in court on March 11.
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