Counterfeiters make many different fakes -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Counterfeiters make many different fakes

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April 14, 2008

Albany -- Counterfeiting of all kinds of luxury brand items is on the rise, and it costs legitimate companies billions of dollars.

 Georgia is a hub for counterfeit goods. Homeland Security reports many fakes come into the country at the Savannah Port or the Atlanta airport, and are distributed from there. But it's not just fake watches, DVD's, or purses anymore.

 You figure a $100 bottle of wine would be sweet, but counterfeiters could put a bitter taste in your mouth. The Warehouse Package Store Manager Louis Bernard said "some of the more expensive wines, people are actually counterfeiting to make a quick buck, and dupe potential investors."

 It started with rare wine at auctions, and now counterfeiting has filtered down to fake expensive wine, mostly being sold over the Internet. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

The U.S.Chamber of Commerce estimates counterfeiting costs Americans $250 billion in just lost tax revenue.  Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Investigator Captain Craig Dodd said "it's getting worse. It's expanding to different types of products, that have never been dealt with before."

 Like cigars. If you aren't careful that fine $14 smoke could be a cheap fake. And the billions in profits for this fast expanding crime is going to some of the most dangerous criminals in the world.  

Dodd said "Eastern bloc organized crime organizations, Asian organized crime organizations, and Middle Eastern terrorist organizations fund these companies that are doing this."

Even sporting goods are hot items for counterfeiters. $800 Ping and Callaway golf sets are also hot items for counterfeiters. And the fakes can rip off even the best trained eye. Bernard said "you have really got to know who you are buying it from."

Common sense is another way to keep from getting stuck with counterfeit products. If someone offers to sell you a $200 golf club or a $100 bottle of wine for just 10 bucks? Dodd said "chances are pretty good it's a fake. If it's too good to be true, it is. Just like Momma told you."

Good advice, as counterfeiters branch out into many different types of goods, to take your money.

 Bernard says many wine and cigar manufacturers are now putting holograms on their packaging to fight the fast growing counterfeit business.