The Crime of Counterfeit Goods

Isaac Mostovicz writes...


As we mentioned in this recent post, buying a fake handbag can feel like a victimless crime. The buyer might feel good about saving money–perhaps even bragging to friends about it–and think that the luxury company won’t miss the revenue from a single bag. But purchasing counterfeit handbags and other goods might not necessarily be consequence free. Dana Thomas wrote an article for the New York Times last month that highlights several illicit activities and organizations that stem from counterfeiting:

Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Trying not to sound overly preachy or like a scaremonger, these organizations should not–must not–be funded by counterfeit goods. What can luxury companies do to stop them? They can’t necessarily go after counterfeit manufacturers themselves–that’s the job of law enforcement–but they can be transparent and acknowledge that counterfeiting is a serious problem they face. Too many luxury companies worry that talking about the problem will make more people aware of it thereby tarnishing their reputations. But the counterfeit problem is real and will become worse if companies ignore it.

If luxury companies can give people a better reason to stop purchasing counterfeit goods, everyone will be better off.

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