NEW YORK — The fakers got stung.
The New York Police Department said Wednesday that an 18-month undercover investigation into the sales of fake Nike, Rolex, Gucci and Calvin Klein merchandise led to the arrests of nine alleged counterfeiters and the seizure of merchandise valued at more than $700,000.
To mount the investigation, called “Operation Hook,” the NYPD opened a warehouse in Downtown Brooklyn under the name D.T. Trading, staffed it with undercover detectives, who posed as dealers of counterfeit merchandise, and wired it with cameras and recording devices. The NYPD said in a statement that it recorded at least three transactions with each person arrested.
The people arrested were Isaac Gadeh, Daniel Garfinkel, Yun Hai Wu, Oliver Ting, James Woo, Yiu Wah Cheung, Min Choi, Manoj Manglani and Dong Ko Cho. All were charged with third-degree trademark counterfeiting, a felony.
“Trademark counterfeiting is a global problem that costs legitimate businesses billions of dollars each year,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a press conference at police headquarters. “Counterfeiters hurt businesses, deprive the city of taxes and rip off the consumers who buy their inferior goods.”
The sale of counterfeit merchandise has long been an issue in New York, from storefronts in Chinatown hawking knockoff handbags and sidewalk sellers of phony branded sweatshirts to one particularly brazen seller of bogus Rolexes, who, during the Nineties, offered his wares for sale in front of Rolex’s Midtown office building.
The NYPD said it also searched the warehouses, outlets and homes of the people arrested and recovered bogus Tiffany jewelry, Louis Vuitton handbags, Oakley sunglasses, Kangol hats, a Phat Farm sweatshirt and caps with Major League Baseball logos. The NYPD estimated the sale of the counterfeit merchandise cost the owners of the trademarks $2 million in lost business.
The operation was partly funded by money donated by the companies whose brands are frequently counterfeited.