High Fashion or High Crimes? Counterfeiting

By August 30, 2007Technology, Trade

Excellent New York Times op-ed today, “Terror’s Purse Strings,” a clear-eyed view of the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit fashion and accessories. About 11 percent of the world’s clothing is counterfeit, experts say.

Most people think that buying an imitation handbag or wallet is harmless, a victimless crime. But the counterfeiting rackets are run by crime syndicates that also deal in narcotics, weapons, child prostitution, human trafficking and terrorism. Ronald K. Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, told the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations that profits from the sale of counterfeit goods have gone to groups associated with Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group, paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland and FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Sales of counterfeit T-shirts may have helped finance the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, according to the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. “Profits from counterfeiting are one of the three main sources of income supporting international terrorism,” said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland.

Reporter Dana Thomas recounts a raid she joined in China.

The NAM is a member of the Coalition against Counterfeiting and Piracy. We have an online resource kit devoted to the topic.

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