Scarves, watches and handbags, oh my! Even pharmaceuticals have cropped up on the list of fake goods bought and sold each day in the United States. And as Americans prepare for the Christmas buying rush known to most as Black Friday, there comes a bit of a warning from the Department of Justice: Buy counterfeit items at your own risk.
Next week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will hold a press conference at the White House to inform the public about this growing problem and the possible threat it poses. The administration will announce ways that it has cracked down on counterfeiting and intellectual property theft crimes with a new public awareness campaign.
The Justice Department contends that counterfeiting can have a harmful impact on the economy, potentially resulting in job loss, crime and health risks.
Holder will be joined by other top administration officials who will discuss how fake goods can have a direct impact on families. In addition, Ann Harkins, president of the National Crime Prevention Council, will make available new efforts to get the word out about how citizens can get involved in stopping these kinds of thefts.
Last year, the Justice Department and other federal agencies targeted online retailers selling everything from sports gear to sunglasses as part of a crackdown called “Operation in Our Sites.” Stings and undercover operations were set up to thwart the purchasing of counterfeit goods via international express mail.
The goal is to change the perception that buying that suspiciously-cheap designer gift is a victimless crime, and to let the American public know that pirating goods from U.S. brands can have harmful employment, tax, health and safety implications.
So if you’re out there in the holiday rush with an eye on an item that looks too good to be true, the federal government is asking that you reach out to the Duty Complaint Agents Office at the FBI by calling 202-324-3000, or by visiting www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm.
If it the deal looks unbelievable, perhaps it is.
(Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Landov)