Online Scams Lure Shoppers With 'Luxury' Handbag Ripoffs

Apr 17 2014, 6:47am CDT | by

Online Scams Lure Shoppers With 'Luxury' Handbag Ripoffs
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

If you’re feeling flush and want to do your part for consumer confidence – say because you’re expecting a tax refund from Uncle Sam – shop carefully before blowing your wad on a luxury handbag, especially when buying online. Scams abound, and tend to proliferate like a hydra that keeps growing new heads.

Fraudsters are not only adept at making counterfeits look like the real thing (See “How To Spot A Fake Designer Handbag”). They also employ creative marketing strategies that exploit consumers’ buying habits. A recent federal indictment provides a window on how one Brooklyn, N.Y. ring seduced consumers for at least three years.

The indictment, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, describes a scheme, operated through a network of websites that purported to offer authentic luxury goods – primarily handbags – at prices of up to $3,000. The websites advertised that the items were discounted because of slight manufacturing defects “infrequently noticeable to the consumer.” Hundreds of consumers who purchased goods from the sites either never received them or got counterfeits.

Deceived customers, who had paid by credit card, disputed the charges and got refunds from the company that processed the payment. Ordinarily that company would have charged back the amount to the merchant’s bank account. But the ring used various means to thwart those efforts.

All the suspects were arrested in early February and have since been released on bail. Joseph and Albert Mosseri, Oded Hakim and Elliot Shasho allegedly directed the scheme and managed its finances, while Andrew Li supplied counterfeit luxury goods.

The suspects were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud, and trademark counterfeiting. If convicted, they could each face up to 30 years in prison. Their lawyers declined or did not respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Joseph Mosseri has been a defendant in at least two other lawsuits accusing him of selling counterfeit handbags. One, filed in November by Chanel in the Southern District of Florida, is in the early stages. The other, brought in the same court by Louis Vuitton in 2010, resulted in a default judgment against him, which was affirmed in December 2013 by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

These handbag makers and others would prefer that consumers buy the brand at one of their boutiques or at a department store counter. But a growing number of people looking for bargains will shop for these goods through online discounters like the ones that the feds recently targeted. The proliferation of online sites (the recent indictment alone mentions 10 of them) makes it easier than ever to get snookered. Some have professional sounding names; include pictures that look like the real thing (those photos may even violate copyright rules); and price merchandise so it seems like they’re discounting the real thing, rather than overcharging for a knockoff.

As with any online vendor you’ll want to consider how long they’ve been in business and how many previous customers there are. Be suspicious if the seller has plenty of stock in an item that’s sold out everywhere else.

Archive of Forbes Articles By Deborah Jacobs

Deborah L. Jacobs, a lawyer and journalist, is the author of Estate Planning Smarts: A Practical, User-Friendly, Action-Oriented Guide, now available in the third edition.

How To Spot A Fake Louis Vuitton

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

18th Saarc Summit concludes with one pact, several understandings
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) The 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Summit concluded in Kathmandu Thursday with the adoption of a 36-point Kathmandu Declaration.
 
 
British supermarkets sold contaminated chicken
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Eight of the every 10 fresh chickens bought from British supermarkets this summer were contaminated with the potentially lethal food-poisoning bug campylobacter, the food watchdog has said.
 
 
SJVNL signs pact with Nepal for hydro-power plant
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) Indian public sector company Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (SJVNL) has signed a project development agreement with the Nepal government for executing the 900 MW Arun-III Hydro Electric Project in eastern Nepal, officials said Thursday.
 
 
'I saw humans on Mars in 1979': Ex-NASA employee
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) A woman claiming to be a former NASA employee has stated that while watching some footage, she saw two humans walking on the Red Planet towards the Viking Mars lander in 1979.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Black Friday Store Maps Download
Black Friday 2014 Online Sales are underway since the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day. If you are planning to also hit the mall for Black Friday 2014 deal hunting then we recommend to get the Black Friday store...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
South African president to visit China in December
Pretoria, Nov 27 (IANS) South African President Jacob Zuma will pay a state visit to China next month to further strengthen strategic relationship, it was announced Thursday. The visit, scheduled for Dec 4 and 5, will...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Target Black Friday 2014 Sale has launched Online
The Target Black Friday 2014 Sale will begin in stores at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, but has already launched in full now online at Target.com.Do not miss the hottest iPad Air 2 Black Friday deal of the season. Target...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Caitlin Moran seeks sexy actress
Caitlin Moran needs an actress who can cope with an ''enormous penis''. The 39-year-old author has started hunting for an actress who can play the lead role in the film adaptation of her best-selling novel 'How To Build...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Johnny Depp doesn't care about critics
Johnny Depp doesn't care about film critics. The 51-year-old actor no longer worries about proving his critics wrong and is now ''game for anything'' after coming to the realization that he was becoming too preoccupied...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Idris Elba: Fame's made me paranoid
Idris Elba admits fame has made him ''paranoid'' about people. The 42-year-old actor is now one of the most recognizable faces in TV and film due to his roles in 'Luther', 'Thor', 'Prometheus' and 'Pacific Rim' but he...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Khloe Kardashian cooking Thanksgiving dinner for family
Khloe Kardashian is cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the entire Kardashian family. The 30-year-old reality TV star is hosting her relatives for the annual US holiday today (11.27.14) for the first time ever because...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Taylor Swift reveals Thanksgiving plans
Taylor Swift is looking forward to tucking into sweet potato casserole during her Thanksgiving meal. The 24-year-old singer said the delicious snack is her favourite side dish to enjoy while celebrating the American...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kourtney Kardashian nauseous pregnancy
Kourtney Kardashian has felt sick throughout her latest pregnancy. The 35-year-old reality star is currently expecting her third child with partner Scott Disick and she admits she starts to feel nauseous if she doesn't...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Apple Continues to Depend on Samsung
Apple is still working with Samsung, even with more emphasize, as the tech giant reportedly engages the Korean company to provide different components for the iPhone 6 and the upcoming Apple Watch.According to Mac...
Read more on Apple Balla