Journal Times Editorial: “Creative Impostors” Fund Organized Crime and Worker Abuse | Editorial

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The temptation to buy the “designer impostor” is understandable. If you can pass off a counterfeit bag, item of clothing, or other piece as a luxury branded item, it’s glory without the heartache in the wallet, right?

Wrong. There is mourning, but it is often for the most vulnerable people.

The annual trade in counterfeit products was $ 461 billion in 2013, or about 2.5% of total world trade, according to Piotr Stryszowski, an economist at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The money goes to organized crime and helps finance terrorism and the trafficking of drugs, humans, sex and wildlife, as well as the lavish lifestyles of its mainstays, the Associated Press reported in 2017.

“This is the globalized illicit trade of the 21st century,” says Stryszowski, who is dismayed that it is not taken as seriously as other contraband products, like cocaine.

You can think of fakes as “fun” and feel smart to buy sunglasses or sneakers that look like real things but cost a fraction of the price.

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The reality, however, is anything but amusing for the workers, many of whom are children, who are stuck in appalling, slave-like conditions, making bogus products for the gang leaders who, Stryszowski says, “didn’t. no ethics and no respect for the law. “

London intellectual property lawyer Mary Bagnall described horror scenes to the AP: children chained to sewing machines; people locked in underground factories in remote corners of China – which characterize an industry so lucrative but so low-risk that some criminal gangs are breaking out of drug and human trafficking businesses into counterfeits.

“The criminals who engage in the illegal trade are cunning and violent and will commit murders to maintain and expand their illicit markets. Operating with such impunity allows these groups to fund their operations and to establish and maintain trade routes for trafficking across the country. They are nimble enough to evade law enforcement, enterprising enough to continually establish new sources of revenue and recruit vulnerable citizens, and are aggressive in carrying out their criminal enterprises, ”United to Safeguard America from Illegal wrote Trade – a coalition of experts in trademark enforcement, law enforcement agencies and major trade organizations, including Levi Strauss, Merck, Tommy Hilfiger and the US Chamber of Commerce – in a comment posted in newspapers across the country on November 29.

OCED’s Stryszowski said most of the fakes came from China. “It has the global infrastructure for manufacturing… it is easily transferable to manufacture illegitimate products as well,” says Candace Li Uzoigwe, senior vice president of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Committee.

China has an integrated network of smugglers responsible for taking orders and shipping counterfeit products, Vice.com reported on September 2. According to a smuggler based in China: “The people of the region have been doing this work for a long time. We have friends or relatives who are in this industry. We guide each other.

Uzoigwe said sophisticated criminal networks are also involved in the counterfeiting, using it to finance even more harmful activities, such as human trafficking. One example she cites is the 2015 Charlie Hebdo terrorist shooting in Paris, in which two brothers killed 12 staff and injured 11 others in a French satirical newspaper. One of the brothers involved sold counterfeit clothes and shoes in the weeks leading up to the shooting, using the profits to fund the brothers’ activities, including the purchase of weapons.

Consumer awareness can ultimately be a key tool in the fight, Stryszowski said: “The money you spend, you spend on bad behavior, you pay criminals.”

Last week in this space, we encouraged you to shop locally this holiday season.

This week, we ask you to make sure that everything you buy is the genuine item. The money you save could cost someone a lot more than money.

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