ALL FAKE, ALL THE TIME: Online, counterfeit merchandise may look like a reasonable facsimile of the real thing, but up close, and to the educated eye, it isn’t pretty. Neither is the business of counterfeiting. A multibillion dollar scourge of the fashion industry, selling fakes robs the government of taxes, society of jobs and brands of the reputations they worked so hard to establish. In addition, experts have established that counterfeiting involves street gangs, international organized crime groups and even terrorists, who use the money to support their activities.
So Neil Kraft, founder of KraftWorks, a creative agency specializing in advertising, branded entertainment, packaging design, Web sites and brand identity, created DesignsFauxReal.com at the behest of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Luxury Design Council. The Web site looks like any high-end e-commerce site, with tabs for home, clothing, accessories, jewelry and other products. That is, until one reads the product descriptions. An American Eagle hoodie comes with a special offer: “Free destroyed credit rating.” A scarf carries the warning: “Purchase comes with incessant calls from debt collectors!!!” Banner ads across the top of the site’s home page read, “Free Identity Theft with Every Purchase” and “Clearance on Your Bank Account.” Click the FAQs tab and the newsletter of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition appears. Kraft said the Web site “is completely fake and made to both scare and amuse people.”
The Web site is designed to save users from themselves, if they haven’t figured out that the products aren’t real. When the “buy now” key is pressed, a typical online order form appears, along with, “Really? Is this ring worth having to spend the next year and a half trying to fix the damages caused by identity theft?” If that’s not enough to stop bargain hunters, there’s a final message: “Oops, this isn’t a real check-out, just another fake out.”
“When a site gets taken down for selling fakes, our Web site replaces it,” said Kraft. “Also, our site is supposed to show up on Google if you type ‘fake [brand name] handbags.’ Notice the fake pop-up if you try to leave the site.”