The arrest of a Chinaman living in Queens, New York, on charges of smuggling millions of dollars of counterfeit brand name goods into America, has revealed precisely how far Chinese manufacturers have infiltrated unsuspecting retail markets in the West with fake low-quality goods.
According to a press release issued by the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, New York, New York resident Su Ming Ling has been charged with smuggling and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods for his participation in a sophisticated scheme to import approximately 200 shipping containers of counterfeit brand-name apparel from the People’s Republic of China.
Ling was arrested in California as he attempted to board a flight from San Francisco to Taiwan, and has been ordered detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
“Using a combination of internet savvy and old-fashioned counterfeit distribution techniques, defendant Ling perpetrated a lucrative counterfeiting scheme involving fake name-brand items,” stated Acting United States Attorney Bridget M. Rohde.
“This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to protecting the intellectual property of U.S. brands, on which the economic integrity of U.S. markets depend.”
According to the complaint unsealed this morning, between May 2013 and January 2017, Ling used aliases to register and create numerous Internet domain names and email addresses that resembled the Internet domain names of real U.S. businesses.
The defendant then used the fraudulently obtained email addresses to pose as a representative of the real businesses, and hired .S. Customs and Border Protection CBP-licensed customs brokers for file customs entry forms on behalf of the businesses whose identities he had stolen.
Ling provided those customs brokers with falsified shipping documents for numerous shipments of counterfeit brand-name apparel that misrepresented the true contents of the shipping containers.
Working with co-conspirators, Ling then arranged for the shipping containers of counterfeit goods to be distributed to, among other places, warehouses and storage facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, and in New Jersey. From there, the goods entered the retail distribution chain to be purchased by unsuspecting retailers and consumers.
The shipping containers which were inspected were found to contain purported brand-name merchandise including purported Nike brand sneakers, UGG brand boots, National Football League-brand athletic jerseys, and True Religion brand jeans which CBP import specialists later determined to be counterfeit.
As detailed in the complaint, after searching the defendant’s cellular telephones in December 2015, agents found photographs and notes of names and email addresses the defendant kept in an apparent effort to keep track of his fraudulent identities. Among other things, Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) agents found messages between Ling and his coconspirators with delivery instructions and photographs of delivery orders for shipping containers that HSI and CBP had inspected and found to contain counterfeit apparel.