Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An FBI raid uncovers thousands of dollars in bogus merchandise at a flea market in Southwest Baltimore.
But as Gigi Barnett reports, some shoppers say it’s still the best place to get good deals.
Shoppers at the Patapsco Flea Market in Southwest Baltimore can find almost anything: clothes, shoes, jewelry. But earlier this week, FBI and Homeland Security agents found what they were looking for, too: counterfeit merchandise. Now five men are in police custody, charged with selling the bogus name-brand goods like Coach handbags, Nike shoes and MAC cosmetics.
“They’re criminal organizations and they’re improving their product so much that they’re making their way into the primary marketplace and, in those instances, consumers can’t even tell,” said William Winter, Homeland Security.
According to court documents, undercover agents set up shop at the market, staking out the counterfeit ring back in 2009. According to signs inside, the market has a policy against selling phony items.
Some customers say shopping at the flea market is the only way they can get deals.
“It’s for the people who can’t afford to get the real deal. What about us?” said shopper Kenneth Smith.
“I sell my books here,” said Tyeisha Downer.
For Downer, everything she sells at Patapsco is an original. The self-published author says she’ll stay at the flea market because her book sales are strong.
“The energy inside is good, the people are really good, the ambiance is really good. Got a lot of vendors who are trying to do their thing,” Downer said.
According to the indictment, much of the bogus merchandise came from suppliers in New York. If the men are convicted, they could face up to 10 years behind bars and a $2 million fine.
FBI agents found 70 percent of many name-brand items sold at the flea market were fakes.