Clutch Your Fake Prada Purse Close: NYC May Crack Down On Buyers Of Counterfeit Goods

We can imagine it now — New York City’s Canal street, home of street vendors hawking goods that bear a striking resemblance (in some cases) or look kinda sorta like (in most cases) luxury brand purses, watches, sunglasses and more. But something is wrong. There are no murmurs of “GucciPradaLouisVuittonRolex.” There are no roving bands of tourists trying to figure out where to score the best fakes, no hands beckoning shoppers into back rooms filled with merchandise. This could be the city’s future if lawmakers have their way.

Manhattan’s Chinatown is known worldwide by shoppers who can’t plunk down hundreds on a name brand bag but still want the cachet of carrying a luxury item. Some of those accessories are sold legally on the streets, as they’re not actually trying to pass themselves off as those brands.

But then there are the hidden storefronts along Canal Street, where counterfeits are sold for dirt cheap. They’re fake, and totally illegal. So far, police have focused on rounding up the vendors. But a new bill proposed to the City Council seeks to punish customers who purchase those counterfeits.

The bill would make buyers punishable with fines of up to $1,000 or a year in prison, reports the Associated Press. Gulp. Doesn’t really make that shiny yet fake “Rolex” worth it, does it?

Council member Margaret Chin, who introduced the bill, says that the sale of those counterfeits comes at a price tag of $1 billion in tax revenue per year, money the city could use to support community improvements. A vote is expected on the bill in the coming months.

It’s all because the seductive siren song of the market for fake goods, Chin says. Once tourists have their swag, “they leave — they don’t patronize small businesses in our community. This is not helping us, it’s just giving us a very, very bad image.”

“Hopefully, this law will cut down on demand,” she says.

NYC debates crackdown on counterfeit luxury goods [Associated Press]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.