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

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