"Operation Fashion Faux Pas" is not the name of a new Bravo reality TV show but the mission that ended Wednesday and Thursday with federal agents raiding five Orange County vendors accused of selling counterfeit merchandise.
More than $200,000 worth of goods were seized in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations raids this week to cap a six-month crackdown that has hauled in $820,000 worth of products passed off as being from Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex, Hermes and Chanel.
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ICE HSI released the following Operation Fashion Faux Pas video:
"As we remind consumers, buying knockoffs doesn't pay off," saysClaude Arnold
, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles, in a statement accompanying the video. "The vendors who sell counterfeit merchandise are robbing from the legitimate companies, many of them U.S.-based, that make these products. And perhaps most important, they're hurting the men and women who depend on those companies for their livelihood."
This week's enforcement, which had investigators conducting the final of 18 warranted and consensual searches since the operation began, produced purses, jewelry, sunglasses, cosmetics and perfume from a Tustin hair salon, a Garden Grove shoe store, several retail kiosks near the Huntington Beach pier and private residences in Newport Beach and Westminster, according to HSI.
Cops from Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Westminster, Tustin and Garden Grove helped execute the warrants, and evidence was turned over to the Orange County District Attorney's office for potential criminal charges. Since Operation Fashion Faux Pas began six months ago, four vendors have been indicted for alleged crimes.
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"Those charged include the suppliers and proprietors of a Laguna Beach shop, Cobbler's Corner, and a Westminster beauty salon and retail outlet, Spa by Mode," reads the HSI statement. "Searches of both businesses turned up significant quantities of counterfeit designer accessories, including leather goods, hats and sunglasses."
The August raid of Cobbler's Corner had HSI assisted by Laguna Beach cops, the feds note.
Product counterfeiting costs U.S. businesses up to $250 billion yearly, according to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition. Intellectual property rights enforcement by HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection in fiscal year 2011 led to more than 24,000 seizures of goods with a total value of more than $1.1 billion, based upon the manufacturer's suggested retail price had the products been legitimate, according to HSI.