Investigative Consultants assisted a local police department with an operation dubbed “Operation Secret Santa.” Operation Secret Santa targeted vendors selling counterfeit merchandise in and around the Santee Alley area.
Due to the Officers’ ongoing anti-counterfeiting enforcement efforts in the Santee Alley area, the vendors selling counterfeit merchandise had become very keen and aware of the methods that law enforcement used to make arrests for trademark counterfeiting and piracy. It had become increasingly more difficult to apprehend the counterfeiters and pirates.
Law enforcement’s efforts in the Santee area have resulted in hundreds of arrests and the seizure of tens of millions of dollars in counterfeit merchandise, including counterfeit handbags, sunglasses, hats, watches, jeans, toys, jewelry and all other types of counterfeit and pirated items.
Back to Operation Secret Santa. Investigators devised a plan to enter the area undetected by the counterfeiters. The plan included having Investigators all enter the area wearing holiday costumes, such as snowmen, stockings, elves, Christmas trees, reindeer and Santa Claus in an effort to enter the area and observe the sales of counterfeit merchandise while being undetected by the vendors.
The plan was a huge success. Officers were able to arrest ten separate vendors for trademark counterfeiting and music piracy. Several of the vendors had prior arrests for counterfeiting and piracy. Several of those arrested were already on probation for intellectual property crimes.
Counterfeiters are smart people and Investigators and law enforcement need to think outside the box in order to take them down!