Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren. C'mon, be honest. Sure, you saw the perfumes at the counter at Bloomingdales or Macy's and, wow, not cheap, not at all.
Of course, you've also seen the same merchandise on the streets or online. You've wondered. All those boxes of famous perfume being hawked by street vendors or online. What do I know, you mused, maybe, just maybe it's the real thing. Yeah, sure.
Perhaps you peeled off a few bucks, paid the street vendor, and bought the deeply-discounted fragrance - "deeply discounted" as in too good to be true. Don't even start with me. No excuses. You knew from the git-go that this was counterfeit. Oh puhlease!
On the other hand, maybe you went to eBay or Amazon and wound up on a link from a link from a link. At some point, voila!, you wound up a a webpage with all the high-priced name brands perfumes but at really, really cheap prices. Prominently displayed was an ironclad assurance that these were all the real deal. You hit "BUY" and they shipped the stuff to your door.
Perhaps you sprayed it on or gave it to a spouse or special friend. Smelled like the brand name fragrance or, at least, it smelled like something. Hey, what the hell do you know, as long as the person to whom you gave this crap didn't complain and thought that you were a big spender, that worked out just fine for you. Of course, it was a bit dicey there for a few days. You know, you were hoping that no one broke out in a rash or anything.
Still - you wondered. Was it real?
Seems like the Feds were wondering too. Except, in their case, they made cases, federal cases.
On March 2, 2011. Shaoxia Huang, 33, and Shaoxiong Zhou, 42, both of Shantou, Guangdong, China were arrested in Las Vegas by federal authorities on suspicion of conspiring to sell and of selling counterfeit goods. On March 23, 2011, the two Chinese nationals were named in a two-count federal Indictment for conspiring to sell and selling counterfeit goods by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York.
Huang and Zhou faced up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, and up to 10 years in prison on the counterfeit products charge, plus fines of up to $2,250,000. The Indictment also sought forfeiture of profits from illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods as well as the seizure of the goods.
On August 3, 2011, and August 5, 2011, respectively, Shaoxia Huang and Shaoxiong Zhou pled guilty to one count each of trafficking in counterfeit perfume in the Eastern District of New York. The two defendants admitted to offering to supply counterfeit perfume to prospective buyers at a Las Vegas trade show in August 2010.
Okay, so, like what, we're talking about a dozen or so boxes? Would you believe that in 2011, Huang and Zhou managed to get enough fragrance orders to result in their ordering a cargo shipment to the US of more than 30,000 units? That's what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized. And guess what - the merchandize had counterfeit marks and was manufactured to resemble fragrance products from several well-known brands.
At sentencing, as yet unscheduled, both defendants face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine.
On December 1, 2011, Sanjay Anandani, 34, of Clinton, NJ, and Rohit Rohit, 28, of Edgewater, NJ were charged in a two-count unsealed federal Indictment in the Eastern District of New York for their roles in a conspiracy to import and traffic in counterfeit perfume. The Indictment alleges that Anandani and Rohit imported three shipping containers with counterfeit perfume during 2009 and 2010, as well as 4,600 fragrance boxes bearing counterfeit perfume trademarks. The two defendants are each charged with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The trafficking charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2,000,000 fine.
NOTE: Criminal indictments are only charges and are not evidence of guilt, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.