Holiday buyers beware: Counterfeit goods

International terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda operating in several states, including California, have been linked to selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise to fund terrorism, authorities said. (Image courtesy National Crime Prevention Council.)

As a holiday shopper in a tough economy, you may be tempted to cut corners and save money by purchasing counterfeit merchandise. If so, then Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers has a message for you: DON’T!

The organization is warning consumers about the dangers of buying counterfeit goods, such as DVDs, CDs, computers, designer purses, clothing, jewelry and other items.

They say consumers may not know that organized crime, including street gangs, are a major part of the counterfeit merchandise sales market because the profits can be higher than drug sales profits, and the penalties are much lighter than traditional crimes, such as drug dealing.

However, sales of fake “name brand” items have a huge economic impact statewide. The California State Board of Equalization estimates that fake designer clothes, computers, drugs and other items coming through California`s seaports drain about $8 billion each year in tax revenue from state coffers.

Around this time last year, a husband and wife were convicted of selling counterfeit sports clothing at the “The Jersey Store,” located in the 41000 block of 12th Street West in Palmdale.

The illegal funds from sales of counterfeit goods are usually channeled through the “underground economy” of organized crime gangs to fund illegal human, drug and gun smuggling operations. Counterfeit products usually arrive through Southern California ports and are sold by vendors at flea markets, independent shops, swap meets and online.

Not only local street gangs are involved in counterfeiting and piracy. International terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda operating in several states, including California, have been linked to selling and distributing counterfeit merchandise to fund terrorism.

Over the past three years, the Los Angeles County Sheriff`s Department`s Counterfeiting and Piracy Enforcement Team has seized approximately $320 million worth of knockoff designer products and arrested more than 200 suspected smugglers and counterfeiters.

“The bottom line is, if the deal you`re being offered seems too good to be true, then you`re probably buying a fake and hurting us all in the process,” said Sheriff’s Department Commander Todd Rogers, who also serves as an advisor to Crime Stoppers.

If you know someone, or see someone, involved in making or selling counterfeit goods, contact the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661-948-8466 or the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station at 661-272-2400. If you prefer to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers  at 800-222-8477.

  15 comments for “Holiday buyers beware: Counterfeit goods

  1. Adam Chant
    November 26, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Actually there have been stores in the AV Mall with knock off apparel by major brands in the last year.
    For example: True Religion Jeans. I know for a fact that there was 3 different stores in the Mall retailing True Religion jeans this year and not one of them was an authorized retailer of the brand. One store, who likely still has a style or 2, purchased them from an authorized source in LA, but the other two stores were in fact selling knock offs. They both have had their merchandise seized multiple times and I think that one or both of those stores may be closed now.

    Understand that when it comes to apparel that is Made in the U.S.A. that if you are purchasing it at a brick and mortar store for 50% less than retail then you are buying either stolen or knock-off merchandise. Unlike apparel made in other countries the margins for Made in U.S.A. apparel are not 2.5+ times wholesale. As a general rule mark up is about 50% and in some lines as low as 35%.

  2. Notagain!!!!
    November 25, 2012 at 11:20 am


  3. Dinky
    November 23, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    If you buy something out of a trunk of a car its to good to be true lol

    • Letlow
      November 23, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Hey now! Plenty of quality musicians got their start selling their own CDs from the trunks of their cars. Let’s exempt struggling musicians selling their own CDs from the list of scammers.

      Can we also exempt the really sweet old ladies in the Food 4 Less parking lots selling hot tamales? It’s not like the tamales are fake or anything, and they taste really good. LOL!

      • sacryinshame
        November 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        What about the guy in the Food4Les parking lot PRETENDING to hand out free CD’s to people to promote his music career. (Only certain people.)
        Most of the people he “gives promotional cd’s to”, come into the parking lot specifically to find him. They follow him to his car, hand their backpacks to him in the backseat of his car, and while he has the backpack in the backseat, they stand next to the car looking around at everyone and everything that moves. Then they leave with their backpack.
        Is he the guy we should give the break to?

        • Letlow
          November 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

          That sounds like some shady business, so no, leave that guy alone. I’m talking about the nice young clean cats with CD players and headphones in hand. They put the headphones up to your ears so you can take a listen to the masterpiece they’ve been toiling away on in the studio.

          They may even sing a capella for you if you’re skeptical that it is actually them on the CD. For about $5, you may be supporting the next big thing, and you can say I knew him when…

      • Dinky
        November 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm

        Lol there tamales are pretty good lol

  4. Wylda Rose
    November 23, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    If there weren’t label whores, there wouldn’t be nearly as much fake crap out there.

    • sacryinshame
      November 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

      @Wylda Rose, that’s exactly what I think everytime I see some woman in Von’s dressed head to toe in Ed Hardy…Ed Hardy rhinestone hat, fake hair, fake eyelashes, sweater with big Ed Hardy tatoo print on the back and front, Ed Hardy jeans with the name real big across the back (butt) and knee high Ed Hardy boots, carrying a big ole (you guessed it) Ed Hardy shoulder bag. Grocery cart full of steak,frozen dinners, chips, pop and sugary cereal. 2 or 3 little kids, also dressed in matching Ed Hardy clothes…..and she pays with EBT.
      I doubt she knows the stuff is fake or where the proceeds are going. She just has to have “labels”.
      I see more Coach and LV bags being carried here than I see in Beverly Hills.
      Next time I see the fabulous fakes being sold out of the back of a car parked in the street….or in a little shop at the International MarketPlace, I’ll call the station. Curious to see if the person taking the calls will have a clue about why I am calling. Hopefully, they will have been clued in regarding the problem.

      • Notagain!!!!
        November 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm


        • sacryinshame
          November 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

          You saw that too? and yes, God Bless America!

      • Shopper
        November 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Hello – Hardy’s sold @ Ross – as you walk around in your fake Dingos, we’ll all know.

        • sacryinshame
          November 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm

          okay and what’s a Dingos? Only thing fake on me is my smile, right now. I’m SA all the way and proud of it.

    • Letlow
      November 23, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      I agree! If you can’t afford the real thing, why fake the funk with a knock off? The people you’re trying to impress will most likely brand you a fraud and you will be worst off.

      As parents, we also need to teach our kids not to worship material things. We can do this by leading by example and living within our means.

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