Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Customs destroys
fake merchandise

By Jaymes K. Song

U.S. Customs officials literally steamrolled over thousands of fake designer watches and other items near the International Marketplace in Waikiki today in hopes of discouraging vendors from selling counterfeit merchandise.

The 3,000 phony watches, sunglasses and pieces of jewelry were seized from David and Cindy Giang's Kapahulu home in June 1996 following a two-year undercover operation. The items were ordered destroyed by the court.

"We would consider them as a significant supplier," U.S. Customs Service Supervisory Special Agent Michael Cox said of the Giangs.

After pleading guilty in May to trafficking counterfeit merchandise, David Giang was sentenced to 13 months in federal prison and fined $15,000. Cindy Giang was sentenced to eight months and $10,000.

The destroyed fake merchandise included trademarks of Rolex, Boy London, Christian Dior, Chanel, Pierre Nicole, Tag Heuer, Geneva, Dunhill, Guess and even Disney's Mickey Mouse.

Officials valued the items at about $200,000 to $250,000 wholesale. Wholesalers bought watches for about $50 each and sold them to individuals for at least double that amount, Cox said.

Most of the counterfeit watches in Hawaii are manufactured in Asia, and some modifications, such as adding faceplates, are done here.

The Giang's seizure is among several conducted by Customs agents during the past few years.

Agents raided a Waikiki business selling $40,000 per month in counterfeit handbags and clothing bearing the trademarks of Louis Vuitton, Prada, Polo, Coach, Chanel and Dooney & Burke -- all of whom have legitimate retailers in Waikiki.

In another raid, agents seized 2,000 watches and 300 counterfeit Mont Blanc pens.

"You may not be going into a person's house and stealing a TV set," Cox said. "What you're stealing is the (company's) name, reputation and good name.

He also said that selling and purchasing counterfeit items may seem like a minor crime to some people, but it affects the tourism industry and local economy.

"Every dollar spent on counterfeit merchandise is one less dollar at Liberty House and other legitimate retailers," Cox said. "It hurts the economy, the employees, and the (illegal) retailers don't pay taxes."

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin