LAW ENFORCEMENT APPLICANT CAUGHT IN COUNTERFEIT STING

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What started off as a normal case investigating the sales of counterfeit goods on the internet, led to the arrest of a subject that was in the hiring process for multiple state and federal law enforcement agencies. The subject posted the counterfeit goods on the internet hoping to attract all those folks out there looking for counterfeit luxury goods.

The subject was not bright enough to realize was that Investigators are constantly scouring the web trying to track down counterfeiters. Investigators met with the subject in an undercover capacity and purchased counterfeit merchandise from the subject. The subject was obviously not that bright, because during the undercover contact, he bragged that he was applying for multiple law enforcement agencies and that he was about to get hired. Law enforcement confirmed that the subject was in fact in the hiring process.

The subject continued to tell the Investigator that he was going to continue his sales of counterfeit merchandise until he was formally hired and then would stop his felonious activity. The subject stated several times that he knew it was wrong and illegal to sell counterfeit merchandise, however he did not seem to care about anything but making that dollar.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, COPS Bureau and The Intellectual Property Rights Group from HSI teamed up to take down the wanna-be cop. The subject was arrested on felony trademark counterfeiting charges. Law enforcement recovered counterfeit goods from the subject, along with $ 4,000 in cash. Not bad, considering the subject was unemployed. Law enforcement did an outstanding job investigating this matter and stopping someone that was less than deserving to join the outstanding ranks of law enforcement. You never know who you are going to come across on a counterfeiting case.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

ARIZONA ACTIONS SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE


The Phoenix Police Department’s Commercial and Retail Crimes Unit has conducted numerous actions targeting sellers of counterfeit and pirated merchandise. Their efforts span across the counterfeit world and have led to the recovery of all types of merchandise, including computer software, music, movies, shoes, clothing, handbags, sunglasses and much more.

The team has focused their efforts on organized retail crime theft investigations, which is a huge and growing problem across the United States. Their team targets fixed retail locations, street vendors and internet sales. The results of the investigations have uncovered evidence of money laundering and other serious violations, along with the counterfeiting and piracy.

The various actions they conduct have resulted in several arrests and the seizure of large quantities of counterfeit merchandise. Officers have also arrested some interesting people, including an escapee and a subject that harbored a deep admiration for the Aryan Brotherhood. The team’s actions and efforts have been outstanding. All the members of the team deserve recognition for their efforts and their commitment to protecting the economy of Arizona and the United States.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

A FAMILY OF COUNTERFEITERS HIT AGAIN BY THE LAPD’S PIRACY UNIT

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The LAPD’s Piracy Unit struck another blow to a family of prolific counterfeiters. The family considers itself to be a “success story”, demonstrating how you can come to the United States and make your dreams come true by operating a legitimate business. They have even been interviewed by the local press and have posted their interviews on YouTube. The problem is that the family is deeply entrenched in the counterfeit trade and are only posing as legitimate business people.

Three of the brothers in the family have already been arrested and convicted of trademark counterfeiting. The Piracy Unit recently tracked down another brother and arrested him at a Public Storage facility just outside of the Santee Alley area of Los Angeles where he had set up a make shift store/warehouse. Detectives recovered over $ 250,000.00 worth of counterfeit merchandise from this location.

Counterfeiters are full of stories. Over the years, I have heard so many times that they are just trying to survive and trying to “feed their families.” It is a bunch of lies. Counterfeiters are making huge amounts of money and most of the counterfeiters we have come across are certainly not paying their share of taxes.

Don’t ever fall for the hype that counterfeiting and piracy are victimless crimes and don’t deserve to be prosecuted. The brand name companies are not the only victims in this masquerade. We all are! We are losing tax revenue and legitimate businesses lose sales to these guys.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

BUY BUST LEADS TO MORE THAN EXPECTED

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LASD COPS Bureau found more than they bargained for when they had arranged to conduct a “buy bust” and follow up search warrant on a subject who was selling large quantities of counterfeit Monster headphones in front of his home in Long Beach, California.

The subject who was posting his merchandise for sale on the internet was the first person in the United States that was found selling counterfeit versions of Monster’s “Detox” headphones. This was a great find, but it was also disturbing to learn that the high quality fakes were now in the USA.

When Deputies entered the house, they found what they expected, more headphones, but what they did not expect to find was a large quantity of counterfeit Cialis pills. Now that is scary! Who knows what is really in those pills. Studies have shown that counterfeit drugs often contain harmful substances and there are even cases that have resulted in deaths that have been tied to counterfeit medicines.

You never know what is inside counterfeit goods! COPS Bureau is on the hunt for all counterfeiters and have been knocking out some heavy hitters lately.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

Oregon Action Involves Counterfeit Rifle Scopes

A Collective investigation involving CBP, HSI, The Beaverton Police Department and The Cornelius Police Department resulted in counterfeit seizures which included 32 counterfeit Aimpoint and Trijicon rifle scopes from a AirSoft Northwest Store located in Cornelius, Oregon.

Counterfeit scopes were seized by CBP from an inbound shipment to the store. Further investigation resulted in the seizure of additional counterfeit scopes which were on display for sale inside the store location. This investigation started with the proactive enforcement conducted by CBP and HSI at the Port of Portland, Oregon. “Made in China” tape was used to cover the trademarks in an effort to avoid detection and seizure as the shipments were en route from China to Oregon.

It was assumed that the owner of the store had been selling counterfeit scopes and other merchandise for an extended period of time. The owner stated that he was certain his competitors were also involved in the sales of counterfeit merchandise as well. He requested for law enforcement to check into their activities as well.

The store owner did not wish to go to trial and a conviction for Trademark Counterfeiting was obtained by the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

The Importance of Brand Protection

Brand Protection is a key element for any successful company. A company normally spends years and millions of dollars to develop their brand and then as soon as they make it, counterfeiters come along and steal their intellectual property. Some say when you are counterfeited, you should be flattered. Well, I think it is a sign that a brand has developed true value when they are counterfeited, however I don’t think being ripped off is flattering at all!

Trademark counterfeiting and piracy is straight out theft. There is no difference between counterfeiting someone’s brand and stealing their wallet. What is the difference? The bottom line is that you are taking someone else’s property without their permission. Theft is theft.

Many people in the world today don’t understand the effects that intellectual property theft has on a company. They would, if they were the ones that worked for years to build a brand. It not only represents potential lost sales, it diminishes the value and truly tarnishes the brand. Critics out there will always question why law enforcement arrests counterfeiters or why lawyers are suing people for counterfeiting.

The answer is truly simple; they are protecting our economy and trying to stop the flow of illicit profits going into the hands of organized crime groups and gangs. Our creators and innovators deserve protection. They are the ones that are contributing to the economy and funding our schools, police and other vital programs. The counterfeiters are part of the underground economy and do not contribute to legitimate society.

Fighting intellectual property crime is vital to the survival of our country’s financial stability. Do the right thing and buy the real deal.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

OREGON ACTION STRIKES GOLD AGAIN!

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The ongoing efforts in Oregon to stamp out counterfeiting and piracy have once again paid off. The effort recently was lead by the Oregon Department of Justice and the Beaverton Police Department as they were assisted by Homeland Security Investigations. This action was a complete team effort by a great group of law enforcement officers that have worked diligently for the past few months to make the action happen.

The recent case primarily involved the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit and pirated music. Along with that came some counterfeit clothing, movies and other items. The investigation focused on a swap meet, which was used as the sales and distribution point for all the counterfeit merchandise in the general area. This was not the first time this swap meet was targeted for an enforcement action. It seems the swap meet and its owners may be under the false belief that the sales of counterfeit merchandise are ok.

The investigation yielded over 50,000 counterfeit items and the take down of two labs that were making counterfeit music and movies. The case in Oregon has links back to the Los Angeles area and the subjects involved appeared to be the largest distributors of pirated music in the state of Oregon. This case is a great example on how to take out an entire network of subjects to gain the maximum result.

The cases in Oregon have ranged from luxury goods cases to counterfeit rifle scopes. As the team in Oregon has learned time and time again, counterfeiters are not only up to counterfeiting, but are quite often involved in other serious crimes, such as money laundering, drug trafficking and weapons violations.

Our hats are off once again to Beaverton PD, Oregon DOJ and HSI for doing another great job to make a dent in the world of counterfeiting.

By Kris Buckner , Investigative Consultants