Have you ever wondered when you buy something on sale which is a knock off brand of something expensive, where the money goes? I bet you never thought it would be going to fund terrorism and mass death all over the world.
Many of the cheap brands sold on the street corners and some stores were found in ties to some of the most heinous crimes of mass terror. In New York City, we find one of these “secret rooms” where rip-off items are sold mimicking the major brands.
With a smooth-talking salesman, anything is possible when consumers are looking for good deals, especially at holiday times. Fake designer bags alone brought in over $500 billion which U.S. authorities said has already funded most of the terrorism we have witnessed to this day.
Just a few years after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Department of Homeland Security captured over 14,000 counterfeit items worth over $155 million. In New York by itself, there was over $80 billion sold with dealer incentives, and the city lost over $1 billion per year on sales tax revenue.
The New York City Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, told reporters in a conference room as he spoke on the counterfeits, “It’s virtually all profit, and it isn’t funding anything good. It is a threat to democracy and a threat to the rule of law.”
He continued, “The group accused of the Madrid train bombings in 2004, which killed 191 people, had used proceeds from the sale of pirated CDs to fund their activities. The U.S. authorities have also said that another group sells counterfeit goods, including fake Viagra, to support Hezbollah, the militant group in Lebanon.”
Officials stated, the number one counterfeit sales offender is China, but the items are also traded in Pakistan, South Korea, and India. It has turned into a huge trade dispute. “Secret stores” are set up and only advertised by word of mouth. Taking a brand name item which is over $100 could save a customer half the cost on a counterfeit brand.
A young salesperson, who wished to remain anonymous, gave their catchphrase, “These are very good quality. If you buy more than 10, I’ll give you a big discount.” It is so easy to sucker in someone for a good deal when they are in the market for purchasing a certain item.
Terrorist groups use “sweatshops” to have all the items made at a low cost. Their material is either stolen or is a cheaper version of the original. It only costs a few cents for the products to be made and shipped to and from the locations.
Once the items are made they are sent to the “secret rooms or stores,” and when a customer comes around to buy a certain brand name item, the salesman deters them from the item and tries to persuade them to purchase the counterfeit product once the bait has been set.
China has opened its eyes to the problem in the past few years and is working on stopping these groups along with the U.S. and other agents. Copywriting laws are other issues they are all trying to resolve as well but are difficult to catch.
Some merchants stay out of the situation altogether and do not purchase anything from China because they do not want to be arrested and prosecuted. One merchant who also wanted to remain anonymous stated, We do not deal with Chinese products.
For fake bags, South Korean products are the best. We export these products to Japan.”
It is not that people are ignorant to the fact of where the money is really going, it is the fact that no one knows the whole story. That is why they call it a “secret.”
It is run like a mafia-style market where if anyone opens their mouth, they are as good as dead. One merchant was questioned who did not know about the ordeal. They only knew they were getting a good deal for something they wanted.
One merchant was asked why they paid cheap for a Gucci bag which they knew was fake, she stated, “The real thing is so overpriced. Why spend thousands of dollars when you can get one for much, much less.?”
When shopping around, it is a good idea to know where the money is going and maybe spend a little extra for the real brand, because the cheap imitations may be the death of someone.