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Wednesday, December 6, 2023


Phony merchandise a bigger problem than ever

When Houston hosted the Final Four last week, it got more than it bargained for in local business activity.

According to the Houston Chronicle, counterfeit merchandise was in abundance last week, ranging from phony t-shirts to fake championship tickets. And this is only a drop in the bucket for Houston’s counterfeit market.

Houston is the nation’s top port city in both US imports and foreign waterborne tonnage — making counterfeiting not only easy but lucrative as well.

“Definitely it is a growing problem and something we’ll have to contend with just on a continual basis, because the market’s out there, “ Houston Police Department Sgt. Frank Quinn said in an interview with the Chronicle.

Arrests are being made, and there’s a good method in place to deal with counterfeiters, mainly due to laws that make importing fake merchandise a state and federal offense. And although HPD has seized more than $8 million in counterfeit trade items and filed 55 lawsuits with 41 alleged counterfeit retailers, it still hasn’t stemmed the tide of fake imports.

Some of these items are actually dangerous. In March, prosecutors convicted 32-year-old Houston resident En Wang of importing 6,500 fake Viagra pills. A chemist from Pfizer Pharmaceuticals found that the pills were actually made from an ingredient commonly used when making sheetrock.

Another counterfeiter bought 200 fake Cisco Systems networking cards from eBay for $25 each — and then sold them to the US Marine Corps for $625.

Phony merchandise is becoming an increasing crime because the goods are easier to make in today’s economy. For instance, a person can now pirate software, burn it to a blank CD and sell the same software dozens of times — all at relatively no cost. And because the crime requires no physical theft or violence, stopping it is much harder than a normal robbery.

But it is robbery, and people do lose money from false merchandise. If you care about your heath or the health of the economy, stop buying counterfeit goods — if there’s no one to sell to, no one can profit off another person’s hard work.

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