MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The sale of counterfeit goods is a $250 billion industry, with consumers tempted at this time of year by designer fakes at bargain prices.
On Tuesday, Nassau County police displayed thousands of counterfeits seized the day before from homes and stores on Long Island. Police also issued a warning to consumers to think before buying a fake.READ MORE: THE GREAT ESCAPE: Clever Pup Facilitates Breakout From New Jersey Doggy Day Care
You can outfit yourself head to toe in the fake designer bags and bling that were nabbed by Nassau County police on Monday. But while buying the items is not a crime, selling them is.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, Trademark counterfeiting is a felony, and four Long Islanders now face up to four years in prison — accused of openly peddling replicas from affluent neighborhoods and retail stores.
“It is not a victimless crime,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. “We could have walked away from information. We could have decided to put our resources elsewhere. But we decided is too important at this time of year. We needed to send a strong message that we won’t tolerate here in Nassau County.”
CBS2’s Gusoff on Monday rode along with police — rounding up merchants including a Hewlett Harbor mom and a Woodmere boutique owner.
Officials said their high-end counterfeits are made in China in conditions no one should support.
“All too often, the workers are children and they work in deplorable conditions,” said Nassau County police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. “It also has an impact on the local and national economy.”READ MORE: Caught On Video: Carmine's Hostess Attacked After Asking Tourists For Proof Of Vaccination
The items recently crossed into the U.S. looking generic, with designer logos attached later.
“They’ll have a handbag which has no name on it; no trademark on it, and then in a separate shipment, they’ll receive the actual labels,” said Jason Molina, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for HSI New York.
“A couple of thousand of these will be sent in at a time air freight; get matched up. The container never gets seized because its generic when it comes in,” said counterfeiting expert Raymond Dowd.
Like any black market tax free trade, you never really know where the money ends up. But Homeland Security officials said they have traced the proceeds of some of the seemingly innocent purchases to terrorist groups.
That, says police, should make customers think again, .
Whatever you think of the astronomical prices for the real deal, police point out that designers do follow human rights regulations and pay taxes.
Nassau County police said tips from the public led to the arrests on Monday.