Bagging Up Counterfeit Bags Buyers
Imagine doing jail time for buying a fake designer purse? Practically every woman on the 6 train and in New Jersey would be arrested and doing time! According to the NY Post: Pretty soon, it could be more than just the fashion police who have a problem with your shoddy knockoff bag, like this bogus Louis Vuitton.
Buyers could face a year in jail or a $,1000 fine under a proposed bill by a city councilwoman fed up with cheapskate tourists and Big Apple residents flooding her district in search of fake designer merchandise.
Wow – good luck with that! And more after the jump……
“We don’t want to be known as the place to come to get counterfeit goods,” said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose Chinatown district is ground zero for counterfeiters.
Under Chin’s bill, which is being introduced Thursday, shoppers caught buying any counterfeit product could be jailed or slapped with a fine of $1,000 — a little less than the price of Marc Jacobs’ frequently copied Baroque Quilting Mini Stam bag, which retails for $1,250.
“It’s a very big problem,” Chin said of the counterfeit market. “People are still coming, and the industry is growing, and we have to stop the demand. We need people to know that they are feeding this demand.”
Several of Chin’s colleagues have expressed support for the bill, and she already has five co-sponsors.
The punishment might seem draconian, but it’s necessary to curb the growing problem, she said.
She pointed out that the money that counterfeiters rake in often funds other nefarious activities, such as terrorism and unsafe child-labor practices.
But try telling that to bargain hunters.
Christine Gambino, 21, of Staten Island — who was in Chinatown yesterday sporting a fake Louis Vuitton handbag that cost her $40 — vowed to continue to hit the neighborhood for counterfeit goodies.
“I’ll take a risk and sacrifice to look good and pay less,” she said.
Erma Charles of Brooklyn said she knows it’s wrong, but she can’t resist.
“Everyone steals,” the teacher said as she walked in Chinatown.
If the law passes, Chin said, she’ll work to blanket problem areas like Chinatown with signs warning people about the new rules.
The law specifically states that buyers should know their goods are counterfeit because of the low price and location where they are buying them.
But don’t worry if you’re strolling down the street swinging your fake Vuitton and the police pass by. You have to be caught actually buying the goods to be charged, according to the proposal.
Surprisingly, legit merchants — who could lose street traffic if the ubiquitous black-market vendors were to leave — applauded the proposal.
Sandy Lui, manager of Optical 88 on Hester Street, acknowledged that she might lose customers, since many people come to Chinatown specifically to buy knockoffs, but she said she supports a crackdown on principle.
“It’s wrong to sell [fake goods]. I don’t like people coming in here assuming we also sell fake stuff,” she said.
Cops — who have struggled to stop the growing problem — said the law would be difficult to enforce.
“It’s never going to fly,” one officer said.