The sinister underworld of knockoff designer purses

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Monday, Dec. 5, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT)-- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement warns shoppers to refrain from buying counterfeit goods this Christmas season. ICE says the money made from the sales of counterfeit items often goes to fund organized crime in other countries.

In 2015, ICE made nearly 30,000 busts in counterfeit goods with an estimated value of 1.3 billion dollars. Richmond County investigators busted an estimated three million dollars worth of counterfeit goods at the Barnyard Flea Market and South Augusta Flea Market on Saturday.

"I think the average shopper looks at something and says oh that looks like a good deal. Let me buy it. They never think it through," Bryan Cox said. The ICE spokesman says foreign groups smuggle counterfeit goods into the U.S which can end up at places like flea markets. The profits can then go into a dark underworld of criminal activity.

"When you take your bag or your toy and you combine it together with thousands of others that's a massive amount of money being funneled to black market organizations," Cox said. "Those criminal organizations then can put that money together and use it to support a lot of bad things," he warned. He says money from counterfeit sales can go towards things like terrorism and sex trafficking.

Cox also warns money made from counterfeit sales doesn't go to support the local economy. Manufactures of fake purses don't pay taxes and don't create local jobs.