While the fragrance industry may have one less counterfeit ring to worry about with the arrest of five men in New York’s Chinatown Wednesday, the number of counterfeit beauty products continues to grow, according for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Five New York men were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly participating in a scheme to sell counterfeit branded perfumes in New York and across the U.S. The arrests were the result of an ICE Homeland Security Investigation with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the New York Police Department.
“We are seeing more counterfeit beauty products and cosmetics, and that specific area is an area where we’re aggressively targeting the individuals who sell those goods, which [was] the purpose of yesterday’s effort,” said ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls. “In general, it’s all profit motivated. Anything that can be counterfeited is a potential profit for the individuals or group who are selling these inferior goods.”
“The counterfeiting of fragrance is not only a crime, but a violation of the artists who create perfumes and a violation of the trust built between retailers and consumers,” said Elizabeth Musmanno, president of The Fragrance Foundation. “The Fragrance Foundation firmly supports the efforts of law enforcement agencies and organizations to fully prosecute those who participate in these illegal and hurtful operations.”
According to numbers from the Department of Homeland Security, DHS made 2,301 seizures of pharmaceuticals or personal-care products in fiscal 2015, up from 1,841 in fiscal 2014. Those items were valued at more than $75 million retail for fiscal 2015, up from $73 million retail in fiscal 2014, the numbers show.
“If you’re getting a counterfeit beauty product or cosmetic the reality is you don’t know what’s in it,” Walls said.
The men who were arrested — Patrick Badal, Kaium Shah, Kenny Ni, Abul Kashem and Parvez Shazzed — face charges of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, trafficking in counterfeit packaging and smuggling goods into the U.S. The men allegedly imported goods from China and then sold them to wholesalers in New York and at least six other states, according to ICE. Counterfeited brands confiscated included Chanel, Lacoste, Calvin Klein and Polo, among others.
“These seizures by U.S. Customs and Borer Protection provided the critical link to an ongoing investigation that resulted in the takedown of an elaborate criminal enterprise,” said CBP director Robert Perez.