Designer knock-offs taken in $25 million raid

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Earlier this week, police raided warehouses in New York City and Long Island, seizing over $25 million of counterfeit merchandise. The goods taken by the police included knock-off Nike shoes, Duracell batteries, Louis Vuitton handbags, and more. Two men running these warehouses were arrested, and the machines used to put fake logos on the merchandise were seized too.

These knock-offs are typically sold by street vendors and at flea markets. Are you one of the many Americans who regularly buy fake designer bags, shoes, and more? Does a crackdown like this upset you?

The way I see it, these operations deserve to be shut down. I know that a lot of consumers justify operations like this because they want the designer name without paying the designer price. But the fact remains that the logos and the names are the property of the companies that own the original designs. Others should not be able to profit off their names without paying some fee or royalty to them.

This type of illegal profit might be fun and rewarding to the consumers, but it's not fair to the companies that have invested money in the brands and the advertising. This is not a victimless crime, no matter how you slice it. And I'm glad that the authorities take it seriously and do something to help protect the good names and reputations of the true owners of these brands.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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