$2 Million Counterfeiting Operation Brought Down by Nassau County Officials
By Joe Randazzo Published: March 08 2014
DA Rice’s investigation found that millions of dollars were made by a counterfeiting ring that created fake beauty products.
A large-scale $2 million counterfeiting operation in Nassau County involving health and beauty products was brought down in five locations. District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced Saturday that Pardeep Malik, 59, of Plainview, and Hamat Mullick, 60, of Franklin Square, were arrested after court-ordered search warrants were issued by authorities. The two brothers were at the helm of the operation and charged with three counts of Trademark Counterfeiting in the First Degree and Trademark Counterfeiting in the Second Degree. Bail was set at $100,000 each for the two suspects.
“Health and beauty products like lip balms, oils, shampoos and inhalers are highly regulated in order to protect consumers, but these defendants are charged with going around those protections and stealing the brands of major corporations that comply with the law,” DA Rice said. “These actions can endanger the public and local and federal officials, as well as industry manufacturers, are working hard to protect the public in this case.”
The ring was taken down due to a collaborative effort between DA investigators, Nassau County Fire Marshals, the Valley Stream Fire Department, the NCPD DA Squad and ESU, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturers whose products were bootlegged, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During the investigation authorities found showrooms in Franklin Square, Oceanside, Freeport, and Valley Stream. More than $2 million worth of merchandise were seized from these warehouses and removed in four tractor-trailer trucks on Friday.
The bootlegging operation was first discovered by the Valley Stream Fire Department in January after they followed up on a fire they put out in April 2013. It was during this follow-up that the crew stumbled on to the operation. The fire department then notified Nassau County Fire Marshal officials. While at the location fire marshals verified that the products were not real. It was at this point that DA Rice’s office was brought into the investigation.
The brothers are accused of selling their products to retailers in New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Most of their goods were shipped to smaller independently owned stores. They stayed away from bigger chains.
Right now the investigation is at a point where they are trying to figure out how much money they made, where the products went, and if they were harmful. Right now they are being tested to determine safety and quality. Authorities are afraid the ingredients could pose health risks because of the possible lack of sanitary conditions the beauty care products were produced in.
The two brothers allegedly created fakes of Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Chapstick, Johnson’s Baby Oil, Vicks VapoRub, Vicks Inhaler, Vaseline, and Always sanitary pads. As of now there is no recorded evidence of medicine being illegally made in the operation. Chris Vuturo, spokesman for Procter and Gamble, thanked the Nassau County authorities.
“Procter and Gamble applauds the action of Nassau County law enforcement in shutting down this operation, and helping protect people from these counterfeit products. We’ll continue to work with all federal, state, and local authorities to continue frustrate and eliminate counterfeiting, and help them continue to pursue this investigation. We encourage consumers to be cautious about buying branded goods that look suspicious, or from outlets that are unfamiliar – buy only from sources that are well known and trusted.”
District Attorney Kathleen Rice says on her website that there are five ways to check for counterfeit goods:
• First look for obvious signs – a strange picture on the package, strange languages for your locale, strange colors, or strange typeface.
• If the illegitimate product is more sophisticated, however, it can be hard to tell from looking. The next best way is to consider the price paid. If the price was atypically low, without any kind of coupon or special promotion, then it may be illegitimate.
• Counterfeit products will not have the same quality or consistency of real products.
• Also look at the expiration date, as this can be another indicator of a fake.
• Try to shop at established and trusted stores, which are highly likely to be connected to legitimate supply chains.
Anyone who spots a fake product is being urged to call DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau at the Criminal Complaint Unit at (516) 571-3505.
[Source: District Attorney Kathleen Rice]