In an unsealed federal complaint filed in New York, it was revealed this week that US authorities recently stopped a massive international counterfeiting ring which shipped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of counterfeit sneakers into the United States. Authorities state that the group brought in fake Nike and Louis Vuitton footwear that would have been worth more than $472 million if the products were authentic.
The recent bust comes after multiple other large sneaker counterfeiting operations were stopped over the past couple of years. In this particular incident, investigators eventually linked a total of 129 shipping containers containing bogus shoes to the same organization. Inside the containers, customs inspectors found a few rows of decoy boxes with generic shoes which were there to hide the rest of the container's contents: counterfeit Nikes and Louis Vuittons.
One US Customs and Border Patrol agent quoted in Quartz (linked below) noted, “People often make the mistake of believing that purchasing counterfeit items are a victimless crime... However, these items often fund national and transnational criminal organizations, and cost taxpayers billions.” Further, illicit products made and imported through illegal means cost jobs and hurt the economy.
Most brands – as well as government agencies – do not utilize anti-counterfeiting technologies which can readily differentiate between a legitimate product and a fake one. A majority of companies still rely on easily faked holographic stickers or QR codes which are readily reproduced. Until there is a larger push to adapt methods which address these issues, like those created by solo sciences, the importation of counterfeit products is unlikely to stop.