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Criminals selling fake brands at price of original

Published:Friday | September 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Fake brand-name shoes and bags that were confiscated by the police in Spanish Town yesterday.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Carl Berry explains how they found fake brand-name shoes, bags, and watches yesterday.

Consumers can no longer use price to differentiate real from counterfeit goods competing for their money. Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry, head of the Anti-trafficking in Persons Unit, revealed that illicit traders were selling fake brands at prices equivalent to those of the original.

Berry, in an interview with The Gleaner, after seizing several counterfeit goods at a store in Spanish Town, St Catherine, said that the police were intent on ensuring that no avenues are created to support underground criminal activities.

A visit to the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Unit in downtown Kingston saw goods carrying the names of brands ranging from Louis Vuitton and Gucci to Reebok, Nike, Adidas, and Clarks.

"What used to happen was that they would sell the product way under the value of what the real product was, and in some cases, that still occurs. But the criminals and the person who plays in the intellectual property trade have realised that some people are looking for the disparity in prices, so they sell the bad product for similar if not equivalent to the price of what the original product is," he explained.

"That in and of itself creates a problem for the person who is not so au fait with what's happening in the marketplace. As a consequence, we are urging consumers to be alert, be aware."

He said that persons must also be reminded that funds obtained by the illicit trade are used to purchase guns, ammunition, and other dangerous and illegal items, which then contribute to a high crime rate.

Consumers should be diligent and aware

The retailer at the store in Spanish Town, from which the counterfeit goods were seized, has been charged with breaches of the Trademark Act.

Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry, head of the Anti-trafficking in Persons Unit, told The Gleaner that while the police were ramping up measures to curb illicit trade, the onus was on consumers to be equally diligent and aware.

"There was no brand that we took up that was legitimate. All (goods) were picked up from one store. Persons who play in the illicit trade stop at nothing to legitimise everything they do, to divert law enforcement, but they can't do that to us," he said.

"We have found a product that displayed both Adidas and Nike on the same product. That's kind of impossible because they are competing with each other. So unless and until there is a merger, then that's not going to happen. So those are some of the things you have to look for."

He gave credit to a number of organisations that he said made the operation successful.