Crime, News

HSI Targets Suspected of Selling Designer Knockoffs

Nearly $1 Million Worth of Counterfeit Goods Seized During 6-Month Crackdown

Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed state search warrants this week against five local vendors and seized more than $200,000 worth of goods, capping a six-month crackdown on Orange County retailers suspected of selling counterfeit merchandise called Operation Fashion Faux Pas.
This week’s enforcement actions are the culmination of investigative activities initiated by Orange County HSI special agents in May to identify retailers involved in the theft of intellectual property. Over the course of Operation Fashion Faux Pas, investigators conducted a total of 18 warranted and consensual searches resulting in the seizure of more than $820,000 worth of counterfeit goods. That figure is based on the estimated retail value of the merchandise had it been genuine. The seized goods, including purses, jewelry, sunglasses, cosmetics and perfume, bear the counterfeit trademarks of more than two dozen well-known brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex, Hermes and Chanel.
Among the vendors targeted in this week’s enforcement actions were a Tustin hair salon, a Garden Grove shoe store and several retail kiosks near the Huntington Beach pier. HSI special agents also executed warrants at private residences in Newport Beach and Westminster linked to individuals suspected of selling counterfeit items.
“As we remind consumers, buying knockoffs doesn’t pay off,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “The vendors who sell counterfeit merchandise are robbing from the legitimate companies, many of them U.S.-based, that make these products. And perhaps most important, they’re hurting the men and women who depend on those companies for their livelihood.”

November 20, 2012

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