Counterfeit Products Linked Directly to Organized Crime
Shopping online can be an excellent way to save money and time, if you know the merchandise. The old saying, “If it looks too good to be true – it probably is” is especially true when purchasing products on the Web. Federal agents have found that illegal counterfeits and knock-offs have quadrupled since 2009. Homeland Security considers counterfeiting and piracy a plague that is infesting the Internet.
They have discovered that more and more of the knock-off profits are going into the pockets of organized crime – it is time to reconsider purchasing counterfeit products. If you’re not exactly sure that you are purchasing counterfeit, then it may be worth the time to research if you are. The United Nations speculates that counterfeit goods generate over $250 billion a year for criminal organizations. This includes organized crime in the United States and those connected around the world.
Federal agents have found an incredible variety in the counterfeits offered online. The danger in buying these items online means taking a risk in two major ways:
- The quality of counterfeit items is not guaranteed.
- Many of these websites will take the identity of the customer when the purchase is made.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Orlando targets flea markets and mail facilities to find counterfeit items. Federal agents brought down over 130 counterfeit websites over the Christmas shopping season this year, but they admit that it is a “cat and mouse” game they play. As soon as the websites are brought down, the distributors turn around and put up a new site.
Dale Borders is an internationally known counterfeiter for online sales from Orlando. Borders went to court in November, 2012 and pled guilty to trafficking counterfeit merchandise. He faces a maximum of 10 years with $2 million in fines, and this is even just the tip of the iceberg. The cost of prosecuting illegal counterfeiters is expensive and can run as high as $80 million for the original company that was scammed.
Be aware of the authenticity of every website that you order from, looking for signs of fraud. Misspellings and incorrect grammar are typically indicators of a copy website. Report your suspicions to the Intellectual Property Rights Center, Homeland Security at www.iprcenter.gov/referral.