Federal agents in Western New York have shut down a handful of websites selling counterfeit merchandise. The U.S. Attorney’s Office tells YNN’s Ryan Whalen it’s a crime that can have far reaching repercussions.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — They prey on shoppers looking for good deals on holiday gifts.
“Instead of receiving legitimate products in the mail, consumers either received nothing at all or shoddy products not covered by a warranty that could break down at any time,” said James Spero, I.C.E. Special Agent in Charge.
But the federal government shut down more than a hundred of these sites before consumers could log in on Cyber Monday.
“There’s been laws protecting copyrights and ideas since the foundation of our country,” said U.S. Attorney William Hochul.
Five of those websites sold counterfeit hats from Western New York business New Era Cap.
“Companies such as New Era obviously employ hundreds if not thousands of employees and when you buy counterfeit merchandise, you’re not only hurting the companies but also the employees of the company,” Hochul said.
“The effort also had another local connection. Gary Hammer, 47, of Cheektowaga was arrested for trafficking counterfeit computer software.
“Some of the prices for Microsoft sell for 199 dollars and up. Mr. Hammer was selling them for between 40 and 55 dollars an application,” Spero said.
Federal agents say the consumer and the company aren’t always the only victims either.
“There’s no indication as of yet that any of these websites are tied to terrorism or pose a national security threat. In many investigations that we’ve conducted in the past, there has been a direct link to websites selling counterfeit products and criminal organizations,” said Spero.
Investigators are warning shoppers to always be vigilant about making purchases online.