DALY CITY PD TAKES DOWN WATCH DEALER

The Daly City PD took down a subject selling high quality counterfeit watches. The dealer, who advertised his counterfeit watches on the internet, was selling them to customers for $80.00 a watch. The subject was buying them from China for around $20.00 each. These were high quality fakes that came in boxes with bogus paperwork and everything else a genuine watch would come with.

Over the past several years, we have seen an increase in the quality of counterfeit goods that are available. Counterfeiters are doing a better job every day in making the fakes look more and more like the real deal. These counterfeiters, who are making the counterfeits, are very smart and talented people. They are making so much money selling the counterfeits that it allows them to re-invest into their operations and continue to improve their products. As long as the money is there, these guys are going to continue to make better counterfeits every day.

The profits from counterfeiting are huge. This is why counterfeiting is a crime that “makes sense.” You face very little risk with a very high reward. Daly City officers are hoping that they changed one person’s mind. The subject they arrested is hopefully now re-thinking his life of counterfeit crime and will hopefully give up the way of making an easy dollar to getting a legit job and contributing to society instead of the underground economy.

Special thanks to Daly City PD for doing such a great job on taking out the subject in such a timely and efficient manner!

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

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LAPD’S PIRACY UNIT HITS ANOTHER MANUFACTURER

The game has truly changed because of the constant and hard hitting enforcement actions by law enforcement. Counterfeiters are changing the way and where they operate as the LAPD’s Piracy Unit recently learned. The Unit was investigating a large scale manufacturer and distributer of counterfeit merchandise. An undercover was able to infiltrate the operation and was invited to their “factory” where the counterfeit goods were being produced.

The undercover had no idea that the counterfeiters had set up shop in an apartment unit that was located near the Santee Alley area of Los Angeles. When the undercover entered the apartment, he was amazed at the operation. The subjects were silk-screening shirts and also doing heat transfers. The subjects had thousands of labels and the other needed items to produce clothing items. They had a full scale counterfeit factory set up inside the apafin side.

The undercover made numerous buys from the subjects. The UC learned from the subjects that they set up their operation inside the apartment because the cops had been busting everyone that had been operating from commercial locations, so they decided an apartment was a great idea. It might have been but for the fact that the LAPD is hot on the trail of counterfeiters in downtown Los Angeles.

The LAPD served a warrant at the location and recovered all the counterfeit items and the machines to make the items. They arrested two subjects, one of which has been in the counterfeit business for over 15 years. They were charged with felonies and are awaiting trial.

As is the norm with most of our cases, we instructed the UC in the case to contact one of the subjects after his arrest to see if he was still selling counterfeit merchandise. Well guess what; two weeks after his arrest, one of the subjects again sold our UC more counterfeit merchandise. He told the UC he had to be very careful who he sold too because someone had snitched on him. He told the UC that he trusted him and knew he was not a snitch, so he would continue to sell to him.

The LAPD will again be going after the subject. I guess the second time might be the charm. The counterfeiters are taking extra steps to avoid detection and arrest, however sooner or later, their number will come up and they will get taken down. We just have to think outside the box and try to stay one step ahead.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

DUBLIN POLICE SERVICES GETS MORE THAN THEY BARGAINED FOR

The Dublin Police Department started a case that they thought would be a simple buy bust of a subject they agreed to meet at a local coffee shop to buy some counterfeit handbags and headphones. The subject showed up in his car and showed law enforcement the counterfeit items he had to sell them. Law enforcement arrested the subject and searched the vehicle.

Law enforcement located very high quality counterfeit software, along with documentation showing the subject was importing the counterfeit goods directly from China. Detectives also located a large quantity of language learning software. It was decided that the case should not end with the buy bust and Detectives decided to roll back to the subject’s residence.

Good thing they did, as they found a treasure trove of counterfeit merchandise and additional documentation showing the subject was importing the merchandise himself. It turns out that the subject had one of his shipments of counterfeit items seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. We are now in a global economy and many vendors, who are not dealing in huge quantities, are directly importing their counterfeit goods from various source countries. With the internet, this has become all too easy and many air shipments coming into the US are not checked.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

RIVERSIDE ENFORCEMENT CONTINUES

Investigators from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and Agents from Homeland Security Investigations teamed up to take out a long time counterfeiter, who was running her counterfeit operation out of the Riverside Discount Mall. These investigators take brand protection very serious and have focused their efforts to stomp out all intellectual property crimes in Riverside County.

They have focused their efforts on taking on every case with the end game in mind. These guys have arrested several small time vendors and flipped them to much larger targets and major suppliers. One of their recent past cases yielded over 2.1 million dollars worth of counterfeit goods. Their efforts and good old police work have really paid off with some outstanding cases!

In the most recent case, they were provided information about a subject and her trademark counterfeiting activities. The subject, who was already served with a cease and desist notice for her sales of counterfeit merchandise obviously did not take the hint and like so many others, could not give up her counterfeiting ways because she was making way too much money.

Law enforcement arranged to take the subject out. They arranged for an undercover buy to be made. The undercover entered the location and contacted the subject. The subject admitted she was selling counterfeit goods to the undercover. The undercover made a buy from the subject and videotaped the entire transaction. Law enforcement entered the location shortly after and arrested the subject for counterfeiting. They ended up seizing about $100,000 in counterfeit goods.

During the investigation, the Investigators gathered information about potential suppliers. I am sure that the Riverside County DA’s Office and HSI are following up on the information and they will once again be getting another major seizure from working the case from the bottom to the top!

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE LAPD!!!

The Santee Alley is world famous for the sales of counterfeit goods. The game has changed down there for the vendors since the LAPD has stepped up their enforcement. The change has been led by the Central Division SLO Office and the Piracy Unit. This has caused the vendors to go “underground” and they no longer feel safe openly offering their counterfeit goods for sale.

The LAPD has really put a damper on the sales of counterfeit goods in the area. The vendors have now resorted to operating from vehicles and small warehouses throughout the area. Once the vendors find a “trusted” customer, they will take them to their stash location. The vendors often employ look outs to keep a watchful eye for law enforcement.

Unfortunately for one vendor, he trusted the wrong “customer”. The subject led the customer to his small warehouse that was located on the top level of an above ground parking structure. The customer, who turned out to be an undercover investigator, relayed the information to LAPD Officers who quickly devised a plan to take the subject out, but at the same time avoid detection by his multiple look outs.

The plan worked and the Officers were able to swoop in and take the subject down along with his large stash of counterfeit goods. The Officers did a great job coming up with a plan on the fly and sending a message to the counterfeiters in the area that the LAPD will get you no matter what precautions you take if you are engaged in counterfeit activity.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

OREGON CRACKDOWN CONTINUES

Investigators identified a subject that was selling high quality counterfeit jeans at her “Holiday Trunk Show” from a Sports Club facility in Oregon. The subject sold the jeans for over $ 90.00 a pair. Not a bad profit, considering that you can buy a pair of counterfeits for less than $ 20.00.

The subject would host her “Trunk Shows” once a month at the Sports Club or at another facility. She was selling everything from fake jeans to sweatshirts and sweatpants. The subject was selling various high end brands and charging top dollar for the items.

Trunk Shows and Jean Parties are a common way people are selling counterfeit merchandise. These events are no different than the old “Tupperware parties” that were a huge thing back in the day. Remember, counterfeit goods can and will be sold at any venue where consumers are willing to spend their cash.

Investigators received information that the subject was going to host one of her trunk shows. Investigators set up surveillance on the subject’s home in Beaverton, Oregon and observed the subject loading merchandise into her vehicle. Investigators followed the subject to the Sports Club where they watched her unload several plastic bins from her vehicle and take them into the location.

A short time later, an undercover officer entered the location and contacted the subject, who had a large display of jeans and other items that she was selling. The officer made purchases from the subject and the items were confirmed to be counterfeit.

The subject continued her sales and when she left the location, law enforcement conducted the take down of the subject. When the subject was questioned by officers, she readily admitted the items she was selling were in fact counterfeit. Officers recovered a large quantity of counterfeit merchandise from the subject. Officers were able to determine that the source of the goods was a supplier from New York.

Another job well done by The Beaverton Police Department and The Tualatin Police Department. Multiple law enforcement agencies in Oregon have banded together to really put the heat on the counterfeiters.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

COFFEE SHOP COUNTERFEITER

Trademark Counterfeiting and other Intellectual Property Crimes are a growing trend. The world of criminals has truly changed. The crooks are no longer doing their deals in dark alleys; they are now using their local coffee shops and other trendy hang outs. This was the case with this subject, who was the most recent counterfeit crook taken down by The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departments, COPS Bureau. If you want to view the arrest and media coverage on this case CLICK HERE.

It all started when the subject, who is a convicted felon, got out of the big house and wanted to make a few bucks. So what did he do? He turned to burning counterfeit software from his small apartment and would then offer up the counterfeit software on Craigslist. It’s a great deal for him because each disk costs him under a $1.00 to make and then he turns around and sells the bogus junk for $30.00 each. What a profit margin!

We all also need to remember that for every sale he made, the legit software companies were losing a sale. And let’s not forget the legit retail stores selling the real versions of the software were also losing customers. Guys like this are NOT paying taxes on these sales and they are part of the underground economy that is killing our legitimate businesses and causing us losses in the millions of dollars of lost tax revenue every year!

The software company in this case tried to get the subject to stop selling the counterfeit merchandise by issuing him a cease and desist notice, however he chose to play dumb and denied he was selling counterfeits. The subject claimed he was just helping people with their software issues and they must have just misunderstood what he was doing for them. In essence, the subject claimed he was just a good guy trying to help friends out.

An undercover Investigator with Investigative Consultants contacted the subject and made several undercover buys from him of counterfeit disks. That is when the top cops from LASD’s Cops Bureau jumped on the case and arranged a sting operation on him. They arranged for the subject to make several copies of the counterfeit software and had him deliver them to his favorite coffee shop where he met all his customers, however when he delivered the counterfeit goods this time, he was greeted by the Sheriff’s Department and Agents from Homeland Security Investigations, Intellectual Property Rights Group.

Needless to say, he was surprised by his greeting. He fully cooperated and gave consent to search his apartment where Agents and Deputies found additional counterfeit merchandise and a lab set up to make the counterfeit disks. Detective who handled the case presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and obtained multiple felony filings.

The Detective put together a great case and due to his great work, the subject has now been convicted. Another counterfeiter taken out, many more to follow. Great work LASD and HSI on another very successful case.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants