NYC Cracks Down On Stores That Sell Fake Luxury Items

Like fake designer handbags and watches? We have bad news.

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is cracking down on purveyors of fake luxury items, closing down 32 stores in lower Manhattan.

Tourists jostle for space at Canal Street’s stores and sidewalk kiosks, bargaining with vendors over sparkly watches, handbags and perfumes with fake designer labels that are sold at a fraction of the cost of the genuine item.

But over the past five weeks, like the goods that are not what they appear to be, undercover police officers and city agents fanned out and pretended to be real shoppers in an area the mayor called the “Counterfeit Triangle” — which roughly includes Canal, Walker, Baxter and Centre Streets. They picked up items that included a Prada handbag for $40; a Patek Philippe watch and a Rolex for $80, and two pairs of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses for $18.

On Tuesday, 32 shops were closed down, a civil lawsuit was filed against the property owner — the estate of Vincent Terranova — and more than $1 million worth of counterfeit goods were confiscated as a result of the more than 40 undercover shopping sprees.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called the operation one of his administration’s “biggest takedowns ever” against the “easy and sleazy” money derived from counterfeit merchandise.

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, we are going to shut you down,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

Isn’t buying this fake designer crap the main thing tourists do in NYC? No one will visit anymore.

City Agents Shut Down 32 Vendors of Fake Items [NYC]
(Photo: John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)

Comments

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  1. TheUncleBob says:

    Wouldn’t it be better for New York officials and cops to let those who own the trademarks worry about enforcing them and, instead, put their manpower into, I don’t know… making New York a better place to live in? How about shipping out illegal immigrants? More patrol officers to help prevent muggings and random kidnapping/rapes? Rounding up stray animals and other pests/vermin? Better traffic control? Hell, stick some officers out there and have them clean up some litter…

    If Prada wants to spend the money to go after those infringing on the Prada trademark, let ‘em. I don’t see any reason to waste tax dollars doing it.

  2. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    That sucks for the Canal Street business district!

  3. MercuryPDX says:

    I loved the “3 for $10″ Faux-kleys at the newsstands because I’d break/scratch/spindle/fold/mutilate a pair of sunglasses a week.

  4. jomil91 says:

    damnit, I sooo wanted a new Gucci Sunglasses and a Seiko watch, Now I got no reason to go to NYC.

  5. snoop-blog says:

    @TheUncleBob: agreed! they bust illegal goods, but not the illegals themselves?

  6. Ugh . . . when I visit NY, I go to the REAL Marc Jacobs and Prada boutiques. Your board of tourism has nothing to worry about, because a lot people out there still have taste. Fakes are gross!

  7. modenastradale says:

    Typical. Divert limited governmental resources toward a glitzy problem that affects a small number of people. Disregard more pervasive problems like slumlords and subway efficiency and safety.

  8. snoop-blog says:

    i have the strangest feeling this article was linked to the Jezebel site.

  9. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    Well there is still Los Angeles. Anyone up for a trip there? Meet at my house for Punch and Pie in 3 hours. ROADTRIP!!

  10. modenastradale says:

    @SuburbanSocialite:

    I don’t especially care for Prada or Marc Jacobs, but I agree. Fake luxury merchandise is rarely any good — I’ve purchased things from Canal Street as gag gifts, but they’re of such obviously low quality that I can’t imagine anyone actually using them.

  11. HeyThereKiller says:

    BUT WHAT ABOUT MY WAYBAN RAYFARERS!!!!!!

  12. gatopeligroso says:

    @TheUncleBob: WTF! Stray Animals are not “Pests & Vermin”.

  13. Bozman8 says:

    these people are so easy to bust. they operate in plain sight. i don’t think it’s the biggest waste of our city resources considering the amount of $$$$ in lost tax revenue they allege.

  14. AaronZ says:

    Why *not* bust them? NYC makes a lot of their money from tax dollars gained from REAL shopping. Letting fake stores selling fake products run rampant takes away money the city needs to operate. And without any acountability, the $20 you spent on that faux-lex watch is wasted when it breaks in a week, or that fake Prada bad falls apart. So the consumers are ripped off too. Yeah, it uses up some city resources, but it’s for legitimate reasons. It’s not as frivoulous as you guys would make it out to sound.

    What if you ran a legitimate shop in the city selling real goods (like normal $40 handbags or watches) and you pay sales tax and business tax, etc. But some of your customers go down the street and buy crap from a a dude at a folding table because it’s got a fake D&G stamp on it. Your business suffers. To you, this is a real issue because you’re trying to opperate within the law.

  15. arch05 says:

    How can you be a socialite in suburbia?

  16. timmus says:

    Get your priorities straight, NYC… you should have shut down those crappy, thieving hole-in-the-wall camera/electronics stores 25 years ago. Instead you allow them a haven.

  17. hhole says:

    I’m sure no one in NYC would possibly think of using the internet to find these products.

    They don’t allow counterfeit goods on the internet, do they?

  18. StevieD says:

    Thank you for finally protecting consumers from fraud. Rudi should have done this years ago.

  19. NYCmoviegirl says:

    Right on Aaron. You are 100% right. People don’t realize how bad it is to buy fakes. It’s taking away profit from someone else. It’s just as bad as buying bootleg DVDs on the street or downloading MP3s. Everyone wants to spend less money but at what consequence? Some of the imposter bags are so ridiculously cheap looking and there are some out there that at first glance look incredibly real. They are getting more and more authentic looking. I am a person that loves Coach. I will pay their ridiculous prices and buy bags that I love that have lifetime guarantees. If anything happens to any of my bags, I bring it right into the store and get a brand new one. You can’t take back that crap that you buy on Canal Street or from some guy that has a sheet with crappy bags on it in Times Square. I actually think it is offensive when I see people carrying around fake coach bags and I know that sounds horrible because if you can’t afford the real thing, you just can’t. I understand but I still think that the idea of copying off of something that was not yours is absolutely wrong. And it’s really wrong when you do it to create a profit.

  20. itmustbeken says:

    Today we crush the fake handbag army, tomorrow the prostitutes and drug dealers!….or not…

    Wonder if his wife will be receiving a lovely thank you gift from Mui Mui or Chanel because of this? Hmm?

  21. redhelix says:

    Imho, it’s pretty goddamned stupid for Bloomberg to claim this was a major “takedown.” The cops have always known about the phony merchandise that gets sold on Canal St, they just asked the merchants to not make it COMPLETELY obvious that they’re selling fake knockoffs in broad daylight. That’s why they have those little back rooms with the false walls that any joe shmoe can get into if he asks. Bloomberg makes it sound like he’s going after drug peddlers or something. “Undercover Cops”? Please.

  22. Prosumerist says:

    I totally agree with UncleBob. Who cares if most of Canal street is a cesspool of counterfeit crap? Since when did the police become the private enforcers of corporate interest? Tax revenue losses? Please, I doubt fake Gucci bags have anything to do with the outrageous real-estate gouging in this city.

  23. Elvisisdead says:

    Shit. Where can I take my Rolox Sobmariner for repair now, Bloomberg?

  24. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @StevieD: Protecting us from fraud? Are you kidding? If you really believe your $80 Rolex is genuine, I doubt anybody has entrusted you with a job that would pay you enough to buy a real one anyway. So who loses here?

  25. carterbeauford says:

    Mikey finally run out of out-of-state gun shops to bust?

  26. redhelix says:

    @Prosumerist: “Since when did the police become the private enforcers of corporate interest?”

    Exactly.

  27. Dashrashi says:

    @SuburbanSocialite: Fancy you. I haven’t bought anything fake since I was 12 or so, and the only reason I did then was because I liked the look of them. I’d never heard of the brand they were knocked off of. It doesn’t help the cause of the designers to be snobby about authentic stuff.

  28. MissPeacock says:

    I will admit to following a strange woman to the back room of a store my first time in NYC to buy two fake bags. Once I found out that there are impoverished children making these bags in sweatshops (which, really, I should have known at the time) and that the proceeds often go toward criminal activities, I promptly threw them away and will never buy another again.

  29. chelotoyou says:

    @SuburbanSocialite: Sweetie, you can’t buy taste. What does it matter when the same practically-slave-labor children are making the goods for you?

  30. jimconsumer says:

    @MissPeacock: I’d hate to tell you what takes place when I follow strange women to the back rooms of shady little stores…

  31. homersays says:

    Nothing has changed, I work right here and they sell in front of the cops still. Cops were out earlier on Canal and were not doing ANYTHING besides standing there talking.

    If there is a demand, it will never end. Like the war on drugs, this NYPD war on counterfeit goods will never end.

  32. snoop-blog says:

    @chelotoyou: i bet that girl never farts either……

  33. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    There will never be a shortage of counterfeit goods in NY. The bust will just make it a little easier to walk down Canal St for a few weeks, which I like. I hate having to walk down the middle of the road to get anywhere because all the shop keepers need to stand in the middle of the sidewalk and whisper “handbag” at me.

  34. ekthesy says:

    @itmustbeken:

    He’s not married. Divorced almost 15 years ago.

  35. djanes1 says:

    I wonder how much chromium is released from the production of all that cheap leather…

  36. “Isn’t buying this fake designer crap the main thing tourists do in NYC? No one will visit anymore.”

    Don’t worry, Steppenwolf’s putting on a show in New York. Tourists will come to NYC for the good Chicago theater. :P

  37. laddibugg says:

    @MissPeacock: impoverished children sometimes make the real ones, too.

  38. low_dirt says:

    “Buying” is such a highly overrated activity.

  39. nycaviation says:

    @TheUncleBob: I agree that it seems foolish to use government manpower on what is on the surface a civil matter. The reality is the US garment industry is headquartered in New York City and retail and fashion make up a huge chunk of our tax base. These big raids take place a couple times a year and do little to stop the sale of counterfeit goods, but they have to do something to keep the Ralph Laurens and the Macys of the world happy. With tax receipts from Wall Street plummeting in step with the overall economy, it would not be surprising to see these raids more often in order to protect the city’s retail industry which is still in okay shape thanks to the weak dollar and tons of foreign tourists.

  40. mercnet says:

    @AaronZ: Umm someone that wants a designer bag isn’t going to shop for a knock off, it’s the people that can’t afford the real thing that buy it. So how are they losing tax money if the sale was never really there.

  41. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    Attention visitors to NYC.

    Please, please, please, do not buy knock-off goods from stores!

    Real NYC knock-off goods are only to be purchased off of card tables, from the floors of the subway system, out of a granny-cart, from a trenchcoat, or out of a suitcase.

    The sooner you all adjust to our ways the better it will be for everyone.

  42. The_Falconer says:

    Wow… those cops need to learn how to bargain

    A rolex for 80? More like a rolex for 25… and as soon as the cops stop cracking down (I give it a month) they’ll be back up again

    l2government, bloomberg

  43. jaewon223 says:

    Way to utilize tax payer monies. How about fixing the subways, it’s absolutely filthy. I never noticed it until I went to Maryland and rode the metro there.

  44. matto says:

    How are all those poor, hard-working Chinese folks going to make the payments on their luxury boats now?

  45. FLConsumer says:

    @NYCmoviegirl:

    Right on Aaron. You are 100% right. People don’t realize how bad it is to buy fakes. It’s taking away profit from someone else. It’s just as bad as buying bootleg DVDs on the street or downloading MP3s.

    Yes, and paying the outrageous prices for genuine products sends money to faceless large companies in other states/countries which means I’m taking away profits from the local counterfeiters who are supporting the local economy by providing local jobs. I actually have a little bit of respect for the counterfeiters, especially the people who sell the stuff on the streets — they’re out there trying to make a buck instead of sitting home on gov’t cheese or working some dead-end fast food/retail job.

    Some of the imposter bags are so ridiculously cheap looking and there are some out there that at first glance look incredibly real. They are getting more and more authentic looking. I am a person that loves Coach. I will pay their ridiculous prices and buy bags that I love that have lifetime guarantees. If anything happens to any of my bags, I bring it right into the store and get a brand new one. You can’t take back that crap that you buy on Canal Street

    EXACTLY! People who buy counterfeits know they’re buying counterfeits. If they’re trying to pass them off to their friends as the real thing, then yes that is tacky. However, if they’re carrying it around as a stylish handbag that they got for $30, then more power to them. No one buys this crap an expects it to last and why would it need to? It’ll be out of style by the time it starts to fall apart. There’s a decent chance that both the genuine and fake products are made in sweatshops by workers/child labor that gets paid $1/day.

    I think anyone who spends $1200+ on a purse needs to have their head examined, or at least a morality check. That’s $1200 that could go to people who can’t even afford to heat their homes or put food on the table. Yes, I own a full-size luxury car (spend up to 20 hrs/week in it) and have a nice house (paid in full, BTW) and could afford far more, but there are people who need the basic necessities far more than I need a new pair of $500 shoes or the latest HDTV.

  46. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    @FLConsumer: Wow, that comment really takes the cake. All in the course of one post, you:

    1. Rag on people working in “dead end fast food/retail jobs”, but then inexplicably turn around and care about them only when someone buys a purse without thinking about how hard it is for those poor people to heat their homes.

    2. Bash people who flaunt their wealth while simultaneously flaunting your own.

    Bravo, sir!

  47. FLConsumer says:

    @A.W.E.S.O.M.-O: ::bows:: You’re welcome. :)

  48. SaraAB87 says:

    Buying a counterfeit only makes me think of you as a lesser person and a person who supports organized crime, so why buy the counterfeit? I see people who purchase counterfeits as those who support criminals, not those who look trendy, hot and cool with their purses that are falling apart as they walk, thats just tacky! If you need a purse buy a generic one that does not have any infringing labeling on it.

    I also have to second the reliability of a good purse. I bought a Dakine purse for 20$ at a legit skate shop and it has lasted me about 4-5 years already, that was 20$ well spent, and when it dies if it ever does I will purchase another one of the same brand for the quality.

  49. redkamel says:

    Although the vendors are violating the law, I dont think NYPD is overfunded..so how can we use our Law Enforcement dollar best? What gets the most out of city dweller taxes? What do the PEOPLE want? What is a good use of public funds when we are heading into a recession? cracking down on poor/immigrant (I assume, perhaps wrongly) people and their method of income, so luxury items and companies can maintain their value!

  50. Canoehead says:

    I only really get mad at the fake DVD sellers when they clog up the Subway platform – that is a real safety hazard. I actually did buy one of their DVDs once, just to see what all the fuss was about – it was horrible, obviously filmed with a handycam by an epileptic!. Watched for about 3 minutes and tossed it into the garbage.

  51. groverexploder says:

    Wow, a police department enforces a LAW and you all are complaining? Pretending that the brands are supposed to do the arresting themselves? What is this crap?

    Yes, it’s showy, and yes, there are probably bigger things that NYPD could be working on. But it is still the right thing to do.

    Question: Anyone read Gladwell’s work? Particularly his look at graffiti and broken windows?

    Enforcement of seemingly ‘small-time’ crime can indeed have a meaningful effect on an overall community.

  52. nlatimer says:

    @TheUncleBob:

    Are you suggesting allowing corporations to use force or the threat of force to accomplish their goals?

    I don’t even trust the government to do that fairly.

  53. bigtimestuff says:

    Sure, I get a bit annoyed being barked at to buy Gucci and Prada (the likes of which I’m not even interested in if it’s real, let alone fake), but that’s part of the irritating and over-crowded charm of Canal street. Plus, my out-of-town friends and family eat that shit up.

    There’s also the problem, as many have said, of this being ridiculously unimportant in the grand scheme of things, Bloomberg, you fuck. How about sinking the funding for this non-issue into something more important?

    Luckily, there will always be the rogue seller, clucking at you as you walk down Mott. As long as my five-dollar-cigarette lady still comes ’round…

  54. bigtimestuff says:

    @TheUncleBob: Also: I have a hard time imagining that you actually LIVE in New York, because you certainly speak like someone who sees it as a sea of rats and “them damn fur’nurs”. Ignorance is only bliss when you keep it to yourself, pal.

  55. orielbean says:

    You can usually buy the real deal hot items from those same people who sell the knockoffs. We got a nice Tag and a Rolex that way.

  56. Canoehead says:

    @orielbean: Nice, confessing to possession of stolen property! I hope you find them as nice when someone breaks into your apartment (or mugs you on the street) to replenish the supply. Congrats, you’ve taken us from IP theft to fencing and burglary.

  57. iaintgoingthere says:

    @jomil91: You mean Rolax :), because Seiko is too cheap for vendors to make any profit.

  58. iaintgoingthere says:

    @SuburbanSocialite: A funny thing happened to my friend. She went on a vacation to Italy and bought a Prada bag for almost $1200. After enjoying it for several years, the handle, where it is attached to the body started to come apart. Here is the interesting part of this story; she bought a fake Prada several years before buying the real thing. Well, it is still in one piece and still going strong.
    You think paying $1200 for a piece of leather will get you a decent warranty, but NOoooo, they want to charge her for the repair service.

  59. mbains says:

    I think buying fake merchandise has become a tourist attraction on Canal Street. It’s a really fun experience (I blogged about buying my first fake Prada bag at retailworkernews.wordpress.com) But I also think it is silly to carry around a bag just for the name. Does anyone know if buying fake merchandise really funds terrorism? I’ve heard everything from funding terrorism to sweatshops with young children? I hope that’s not the case, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

  60. adam_h says:

    If you don’t buy real prada the terrorists will win!