PLAINVIEW, N.Y. — Police, prosecutors and U.S. postal inspectors joined forces to take down an alleged counterfeit trademark operation based in a Long Island boutique.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, police say thousands of bogus designer goods were being sold out in the open, and shipped around the country.
Nassau Police call it a crime in plain sight. Linny’s Boutique, in Plainview, allegedly passed counterfeit designer logos onto clothing and accessories.
“The store contained thousands of synthetic, heat sealed counterfeit Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Dior and labels purchased from China,” said Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.
Police say their 18 month investigation uncovered, in the store basement, 22 heat pressing machines and labels of sought-after, pricey designers, which, if authentic, would sell for more than $40 million.
“They would take a hat, a $3 hat, a fifty cent item on the side here, they would heat seal it onto the hat, and sell the hat for $300,” Ryder said. “Simple $10 sweatshirt, you put the Chanel brand on it.”
Officials say unsuspecting consumers were duped.
The 31-year-old owner, Lindsay Castelli, is charged with trademark counterfeiting.
“This was a sophisticated operation,” said Nassau County DA Anne Donnelly. “A storefront that you could have walked by hundreds of times and not realized what was in it was thousands and thousands of dollars of counterfeit goods.”
The shop is shuttered until further notice, according to its social media. Requests for comment were not answered.
Castelli is due in court on Nov. 2.
Some shoppers say they know when it’s too good to be true, it’s a knock off.
“I think if you’re shopping here in that kind of store you expect you’re not buying a full real Gucci bag,” one woman said.
Officials urge the public not to perpetuate the problem, and say counterfeiting is not a harmless crime.
“They work hard to build a brand, and what’s going on here is people are stealing that brand and then are deceiving the public,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service says Linny’s and Christian Salvator NY were shipping nationwide.
Donnelly has a message to counterfeiters.
“We will arrest you and seize your merchandise. It’s not worth it,” she said.
Law enforcement dubbed the sting Operation Rainfall for the weather every time they made undercover buys. But now, it’s raining on her business.
Ryder said there’s no way the store will operate again in this county.
A trademark counterfeiting conviction is punishable by one and third to three years.