Reporting Monique Griego
DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ)—It’s a billion dollar industry that police say is costing customers. This weekend Baltimore County police cracked down on counterfeiters at a flea market in Dundalk.
Monique Griego has more on this growing problem.
Police confiscated everything from fake clothes to electronics.
Baltimore County police shut down all shopping at the North Point Plaza Flea Market in Dundalk Saturday morning.
Detectives served search warrants on 16 vendors suspected of selling counterfeit merchandise.
“I just thought it was waste of time when they could be out catching real criminals and nobody really cares,” said Rita Bacote, shopper.
Bacote says most flea market shoppers know they’re buying knock-offs but are only interested in finding a deal.
“Everybody don’t have the money to buy the authentic paraphernalia that they got out here, especially for the teams,” Bacote said.
Vendors are accused of selling everything from fake purses to electronics and clothes with bogus brand names like Nike, Apple and UGG. Truckloads of merchandise were hauled away by police.
“It’s a huge issue. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry,” said William Winter, Homeland Security agent.
Last April Homeland Security and the FBI raided the Patapsco Flea Market in Southwest Baltimore. They uncovered a massive counterfeiting ring with ties to New York City.
Homeland Security says in recent years counterfeiters have gotten so good their items are making it into mainstream market places, and it can be pretty easy for vendors to hike up the price and pass off fake goods as the real deal.
“Consumers can’t even tell a legitimate product from a counterfeit product. Consumers are being duped,” Winter said.
But legitimate vendors also say they’re being hurt because consumers no longer have trust in flea market products.
“It’s a shame everybody has to suffer for what some people do. That’s the American way,” Bacote said.
Police say no charges will be filed in the case until trademark experts go through all the merchandise. That could take weeks.
The flea market was only shut down for the day and should be open next weekend.