Local News

Dozens of Flea Market Vendors Arrested for Selling Fake Goods

Posted January 27, 2007 5:10 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2007 6:50 p.m. EST

— A state investigation into fake goods sold at a Raleigh flea market ended Saturday with nearly two dozen people in handcuffs.

Investigators said they believe certain vendors have been in the habit of selling fake goods at Watson's Flea Market. Members of the recording industry and private corporations tipped off the North Carolina Secretary of State's office.

Undercover officers bought purses, shoes, clothes, CDs and DVDs that were impersonating goods by such vendors as Louis Vuitton, Nike and Coach. They targeted individual sellers, and Raleigh police helped make the bust on Saturday.

Raleigh police arrested 23 people at the flea market, said investigators. Fifteen were being held Saturday night on felony charges, while eight others facing misdemeanor charges were released from police custody.

“It's fake merchandise being sold as a real product at a very discounted rate, and unfortunately a lot of those proceeds that are taken from this help fund organized crime and other terrorist-type organizations,” said an undercover Raleigh police officer.

"They say they get this stuff from New York, because we always ask, 'Where do you get this stuff at?' because it looks nice," said one customer of a targeted vendor.

Officers seized hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, more than enough stuff to fill a moving truck. It's being held as evidence. Some  vendors fled the scene and left their merchandise, leaving more evidence for investigators to itemize.

“There are good vendors that participate at this facility,” said the Raleigh officer. “Unfortunately, there are a few other vendors that are participating in these copyrighted trademark violations."

A spokesman from the Secretary of State's office told WRAL the retail value of the property they've seized exceeds $1 million in value.