According to the Department of Justice, a number of luxury brands have been part of a worldwide “counterfeit and smuggling scheme.”
Federal agents are in the midst of arresting more than 25 people who participated in a plot to make fake products in China and subsequently sell them back in the U.S., according to the agency. Beginning on Friday morning, arrests took place in New York, New Jersey and Texas.
The products in question, had they been real, may have a value of approximately $325 million. This would represent one of the greatest counterfeit operations for merchandise, reported CNBC.
The affected luxury companies that had knockoff items produced includes Ugg boots, Timberland boots, Nike shoes, Burberry scarves, Gucci, Lacoste, Coach, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton.
So how exactly did the scheme play out? A number of connected warehouses, distributors, and wholesalers colluded in China to import the fake items to the U.S. and then launder the sales money back to them. Allegedly the dealers attempted to smuggle the products into the U.S. via the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth, N.J.
The raid came from a group of federal law enforcement agencies, according to CNBC, after they had initially learned about the different fraud aspects independently but they had worked jointly and built the current case; this enabled them to bust up the scheme.
Additional details are set to emerge today at a noon ET press conference from the Newark U.S. Attorney’s Office.