Authorities warn shoppers of dangers from buying fake items - WKRN News 2

Authorities warn shoppers of dangers from buying counterfeit items

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

When shoppers see a deal that seems too good to be true law, enforcement officials and others are warning them to make sure they are not buying a counterfeit item.

Counterfeit goods is a billion dollar industry in the United States that deals in everything from fake designer purses, to shoes, sunglasses, pharmaceuticals and pirated music and DVDs.

"It damages the global economy and we have seen it funds problems like international organized crime gang activity domestically," National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) Director of Communications Michelle Boykins said. "It is attractive to them because it's easier and it has less risk involved with it."

Around Middle Tennessee people can be found selling counterfeit items in parking lots and out of vehicles.

One stand Nashville's News 2 found was selling fake Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors and Chanel purses. The stand also sold other items like shoes and cologne.

The stand's owner did not want to be identified, but said his stand provides affordable and nice looking products to an area that lacks adequate access.

The NCPC in conjunction with federal law enforcement agencies has launched a multi- year campaign against intellectual property theft. The effort includes public service announcements on radio, television and the web.

"Intellectual property theft is not a victimless crime. There are people who lose their jobs every single day as a result of intellectual property theft," Boykins said. "This is a huge enterprise. Anytime you have law enforcement seizing web sites and goods its millions of dollars."

NCPC said the sale of the items also drives international organized crime and labor abuses in the countries where the counterfeit goods are produced.

A recent bust in Bejing, China netted the arrest of 73 people who were suspected of making and selling more than one million fake luxury bags.

Once authorities calculated the value of the facts and the equipment used to produce them, they estimated the operation was worth $800 million.

The bags were set to be shipped to the United States.

It is estimated the counterfeits cost the United States $250 billion every year in lost revenue and 750,000 jobs.

"So if you are out there looking for that bargain, ask yourself is it really worth the price in the end," Boykins said.

Tennessee's Department of Commerce and Insurance Consumer Affairs Division said any shopper who is approached by a seller, especially in an unorthodox retail situation promising luxury items for uncommonly low prices, should exercise judgment about the proposed transaction.

If you believe you have been deceptively sold counterfeit merchandise, contact law enforcement authorities.

Anyone with questions or complaints about a transaction at a retail outlet should contact Consumer Affairs at 615-741-4737.

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