Feds Indict Fisherman's Wharf Merchants For Selling Fake Louis Vuittons

Categories: Law & Order
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No, you didn't get a real, $5 Louis Vuitton...
In what is being billed as the largest takedown of retailers of designer fakes on the West Coast, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement busted a slew of Fisherman's Wharf merchants for allegedly smuggling and trafficking in fake Oakley, Nike, Armani, and Louis Vuitton, among others. Apparently the only penalty for tourists who support the market of fake Prada sunglasses, however, is shame.

The 11 retailers, all but two from San Francisco, began making appearances in federal court on Monday, the day the indictment was unsealed. Giving cheap tourists what they want never looked so scary: Amazingly, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine apiece for smuggling goods into the country, and 10 years in prison and $2 million fines for each count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. That's on top of the potential five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods. 

The whole bust began when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers found a container at the Port of Oakland in December 2007 with a bunch of knockoff booty: 50,000 counterfeit designer accessories valued at more than $22 million all headed to C & K Gifts on Taylor Street. 

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Wanna buy a watch? Top quality...
ICE agents then served federal search warrants on four shops in the 400 block of Beach Street and the homes of four defendants. In February, agents served another four search warrants and five homes. All in all, they seized, 180,000 knockoffs valued at $76 million. The stores targeted are an alphabet soup of tourist traps: L & J Fashions and JC Trading Co., New CWK Gift Store, C& K Gifts, and La Bella Boutique.

According to the press release, the merchants even admitted to the undercover officials that they were hawking knockoffs. While some fashionistas would say they were just telling the truth, ICE director John Morton had some fighting words for the merchants: "Trademark infringement and intellectual property crime not only cost this country much needed jobs and business revenues, but the illegal importation of substandard products can also pose a serious threat to consumers' health and safety."

Smack. The fashion police have spoken.

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