Authorities from the Bureau of Customs seized roughly $22 million worth of fake designer bags during a raid of eight warehouses in Manila, Philippines, reports British Vogue. The warehouses were creating imitations of bags from high-end labels, such as Hermès, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Burberry.
The bags were of excellent quality, receiving “Class AAA” classification, reports Gulfs Times, which is reserved for the best knock-offs being passed off as authentic. The bags were created using generic items and then later finished off by having the brands' logos attached to them, according to the investigation.
Counterfeiting is a massive problem in the Philippines where just last week roughly $11 million worth, not including this particular investigation, of counterfeit and smuggled goods were seized. The creators of the fakes could face charges of smuggling, trademark infringement, and unfair competition, and have been ordered to immediately destroy all fake merchandise.
Counterfeiting is not new to an industry of luxury goods that send consumers looking for more affordable options. In Connecticut, roughly $2 million dollars of counterfeit handbags, shoes, and fragrances were seized. Another case in Manchester, England resulted in the confiscation of over $1.5 million worth of merchandise, like bootleg adidas tracksuits, Barbour jackets, and Nike sneakers. In Los Angeles, $12 million worth of fake designer shoes, sunglasses, and watches were taken during a raid. Still, the case in the Philippines is one of the biggest raids to date. The only one larger appears to have taken place in Boston where $30 million worth of goods were confiscated, but that case combined clothing and electronics.
Perpetrators of these types of crimes usually receive harsh penalties. A company found guilty of knocking off Ralph Lauren was forced to pay roughly $100,000 in damages, in addition to getting rid of all its wares. Another case involving fake Nike and Hugo Boss goods resulted in prison sentences of up to 23 months for those indicted, plus a payment of $113,500 to the respective companies.
[via British Vogue]