Chinese Banks: Leading the Way in Counterfeiting
Written By: Christine Dantz
Dealing with China isn't easy, especially when you have delicate financial ties with the country. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) understands this problem. The agency is responsible for stopping, prosecuting, and seeking restitution from counterfeiters; however, all of this becomes near to impossible because these notorious rings are under the protection of three top Chinese banks. These banks have proven to be less than enthusiastic over the years in cooperating with U.S. investigations, so this latest battle is nothing new. In the meantime, while the DOS attempts to stop the counterfeiting, millions of unsuspecting Americans are still buying fake trinkets from Tiffany's, counterfeit Coach Bags, or worse yet, pseudo prescription pills!
Guilty as Charged, But Untouchable
Consider the story of Kim Sbarcea, featured in the New York Times. In 2011, she purchased what she thought was an amazing deal. Her $32 deal for a pair of "Tiffany Elsa Peretti mesh earrings" on Tiffany-outletsale.com turned out to be too good to be true, when the product she received was far from Tiffany & Co. quality and wound up in her garbage.
Sbarcea made the mistake of trusting the website, which she believed was affiliated with the high-end merchant. After all, why would Tiffany & Co. allow unauthorized use of its name?
This is a common misconception, while no company wants fake websites and consumers scammed with their brand name; keeping up with international competition given today's technology isn't easy. Currently Tiffany & Co. is seeking $58.5 million in damages from one large, online counterfeiting ring that operates on three continents.
The company claims to have traced PayPal transactions to five accounts in three Chinese banks and other processing credit card payments for the counterfeiting defendant. The Bank of China is responsible for the PayPal and credit card payments; however, it refuses to cooperate with U.S. agencies. The bank outside of China in Latvia has cooperated and provided the court the requested documents.
This is one of dozens of cases pending against counterfeiters, where a lack of cooperation from the banks in China is creating a haven for more counterfeiters.
Chinese officials won't step in to help U.S. investigations. In fact, they are making the situation even worse. The DOS received a letter from the Chinese Embassy in Washington in May 2013 complaining about the departments relentless subpoenas demanding banking information from China. The letter strictly states that all requested documents were a matter of national sovereignty and that Chinese regulators saw the demands as insulting to the country, specifically noting that this could, "undermine" relations between the two countries.
Counterfeit in America: The Numbers
Counterfeiting is counterproductive to American made products and to the economy, which is on the upswing. Several different U.S. agencies oversee counterfeiting in America, which helps keep a record of and destroy counterfeit products. This, in turn, also provides evidence the DOS needs to work with the international community to locate counterfeiters and provide restitution to the victims.
- The U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CBP)
- The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
- The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
These agencies help monitor over 11 million seaport containers, 10 million ground containers that arrive via trucks, and an additional 3 million containers by rail. Air imports include another 750,000 packages that come into the country each year.
In 2013, interagency collaboration led to 693 arrests, secured 411 indictments, and resulted in 465 convictions. Additionally, these agencies were able to take down 1,413 websites that were luring unsuspecting Americans to purchase counterfeit products.
According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, there were 24,361 IPR-related seizures in the 328 U.S. ports of entry, totaling $1.74 billion in total value. Most of those goods, $1.61 billion, originated from China.
How can America solve this problem? Try as they may, businesses and government agencies can't locate, shut down, and confiscate all counterfeit products, there are too many to track and stop. Even when they shut down a dozen counterfeiting operations, a dozen more pop right up to take their places. If the country concentrates more on quality products made in the USA, there will be less reason for anyone to import products, a win for Americans, American businesses, and the American economy.
Just another reason to work towards purchasing "Made in the USA" products as often as possible. Find "American Made" products on backintheusa.us.
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