Investigators find knock-off merchandise - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Investigators find knock-off merchandise

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July 12, 2006

Albany -- Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators confiscated thousands of dollars worth of counterfeit goods in store raids in Albany.

Fake designer jeans, purses, or shoes rip off customers everyday, while costing genuine manufacturers millions of dollars, so Southwest Georgia stores are being watched for selling fakes.

They may look like a pair of Nike basketball shoes, but they are really cheap counterfeits. These Louis Vuitton purses and watches are all counterfeits seized off Albany store shelves. Dougherty Co. Sheriff's Lt. Craig Dodd said, "An actual Christian Dior purse similar to this one would probably cost you in the two hundred to four hundred dollar range. "They selling it for Thirty dollars to fifty dollars."

Sheriff's Investigators accompanied undercover U.S. Custom's Agents and manufacturing reps to Albany stores, looking for counterfeit goods.  "We went to about 23 stores. We went to stores at the mall. And only three were bad," Dodd said.

Those three stores with a high volume of counterfeit items were High Dollar Fashions on Broadway Street, D & D Perfume and Clothing on East Oglethorpe, and 229 Fashions on West Broad Avenue. All claimed they did not know they had counterfeit goods.

Dodd said, "The Roca Wear and that sort of thing can cost $150 a pair of jeans, on the retail market, for the real thing. Where as they are selling these for $35 or $40. So the actual retail companies are losing millions and millions of dollars a month on this."

Thousands of items like this were seized in the sweep. Federal authorities are cracking down, because this is not a harmless crime. Dodd said, "A lot of people don't realize a lot of profits from this go back to middle eastern terrorist groups, eastern European organized crime syndicates, that ship this stuff in."

The products look real, but the customer is getting ripped off.  "So they think they are getting this great deal on the real thing. And what they are getting is just common everyday jeans you could buy anywhere, with a logo sewn on them in a foreign country."

The stores found with counterfeit goods were issued a warning. And Investigators say these undercover sweeps will continue, led by the manufacturers wanting to keep their product names from being ruined.  

Sheriff Jamil Saba has not decided what to do with the counterfeit items seized. They could be destroyed, or given to charities to help those in need.

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