A Chinese woman is being sued by major fashion houses for counterfeiting luxury goods worth millions of dollars.
According to Business Insider, 45-year-old Xu Ting has had a long history in the knock-off business. She has been sued in the U.S. by eight labels, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Chanel; the latter she owes $6.9 million in damages for selling counterfeit goods online. But all these lawsuits really aren’t stopping Ting. Nope. She lives a pretty comfortable life in a San Diego suburb with her family. And last year, she became a legal resident.
So what gives? Why is she living the good life while simultaneously being sued by some of the most valuable companies in the world?
According to Business Insider, it’s a lot more complicated than people assume. For one, China doesn’t prioritize counterfeiting—it rarely gets as much attention as drug smuggling or money laundering, and in most cases, isn’t even prosecuted as a crime. The fact that China tends to turn a blind eye toward this issues is exactly why so many knock-offs are produced in the country. And it doesn’t help that Chinese officials hardly cooperate with Western law enforcement to bust these counterfeiters.
But that still doesn’t explain why she’s getting away with it while in the States. She’s being sued for millions, but is still living in a $585,000 house with her husband, who has also had his hand in selling fake goods.
"There's a million ways to game the system," Dan Plane, an intellectual-property lawyer in Hong Kong, who is not involved in litigation against Ting, told Business Insider. "Probably the only thing that's going to stop her is when she passes away — probably on an island resort somewhere — or if she gets arrested."
At this time, Ting simply refuses to show up to court. It’s probably because she’s too busy earning a graduate degree at San Diego State University. Whatever the reason, it’s very unlikely she’ll see any jail time.
"A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than imprisoned for counterfeiting," Geoffrey Potter, an intellectual property lawyer at New York's Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, told Business Insider.
Unfortunately, once you shut down one counterfeit site, another will just pop up. The people who are being sued in the U.S. aren’t the heart of the problem, experts say. The real kingpins are back in China, safe from U.S. persecution.
To read the full piece on Ting and her insane career/criminal history in counterfeiting, head to Business Insider.