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The art of designer scams

It’s common knowledge how easy it is to fall for deals that are too good to be true, and then end up with a full blown counterfeit designer item for not being willing to do the background work first. But did you know that even the luxury name boutiques we all know and love have been known to have been tricked themselves a time of two?

Just recently, a woman from Arlington, Virginia in the United States was sued for making over $1 million dollars in the Ponzi scheme of a lifetime. She would buy designer bags online from renowned luxury brands like Gucci and Burberry, and then swap them for excellent quality Chinese counterfeit bags. After that, she would stroll back into the store (reportedly, she would hit any store within a 12 state radius) with her receipt and the fake bag in hand, and return it for a full refund. The final step was reselling the original item online, and pocketing the price difference. Basically, she got her cake and got to eat it too. Although crazy, the story is not so farfetched, given how good some replicas can be. From the material, down to the little details, sometimes it is very difficult to see the difference if you are not seasoned enough or simply not passionate enough. Sadly, it happens that many times the employee working the store counter at your favourite Louis Vuitton or Chanel store simply does not have the knowledge necessary to confidently discern a real bag from a really good fake one.

The woman mentioned above is currently facing a possible 20 years in prison, but she’s not the only one who has ever been caught red handed. In 2014, a couple from London ran a £280,000 tax scam aimed specifically at Chanel boutiques. The pair would pose as tourists to be able to claim back the tax applied to their purchases (with items being sold for 2,000 or more, the tax amount they produced was significant), and would even conn the sales staff into providing VAT forms (the paperwork needed to claim back the tax for non EU residents) for items they had never purchased in the first place. Both the man and woman had apparently been coughed performing conn acts before, so they were experienced in the field. They were ordered to pay a hefty sum of £53,294 or face up to 15 years in jail; in the end the couple had walked away with a profit of roughly £176,000.

Situations like these happen every day, and a lot of the time the ones who end up suffering the burn are the customers who come later. Always be sure to know your sources, and research the item you are purchasing in full – after all, a fake LV bag is not worth going to jail for, no matter how perfect it is.

June 09, 2016 by Becca Sand
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