Get the Global IP Investigations and Enforcement Perspective

Industry content delivered straight to your inbox.
Email address
Secure and Spam free...

Persistent Counterfeiters: U.S. State Department Employee and Spouse

Department of Justice Sign

On March 18, 2021, a U.S. State Department employee and his spouse will be sentenced by a U.S. District Court judge for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.

The couple pled guilty to trafficking counterfeit goods from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea.

The State Department employee and his spouse were not high-volume counterfeiters (as far as I can tell from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release and the criminal complaint.) Still, this case does highlight the diverse backgrounds of persons drawn to the trafficking of counterfeit goods.

And, unique to this case, even after being detected and ostensibly given a chance to avoid prosecution, the embassy employee (and his spouse) could not resist returning to it–even at the risk of losing one’s career.

CASE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Embassy Employee (EE) had a security clearance
  • EE used a State Department computer to create accounts on several e-commerce platforms
  • EE gave his wife login credentials to his State Department computer to operate the counterfeit accounts
  • December 2017 – EE and wife posted listings of counterfeit goods
  • After each sale, a shipping/co-conspirator in the U.S. mailed the counterfeit item(s) to the purchaser (one purchaser was likely the infringed brand gathering evidence)
  • April 2018 — the shipping/co-conspirator received a cease and desist letter from the infringed brand (Vera Bradley) and alerted the EE by email with the the brand’s partial quote:

“…requesting that you immediately cease and desist from offering for sale any Vera Bradley counterfeit products and destroy any violating products.”

To which the embassy employee replied: “OK, I thought this would happen. Stop all shipments.”

The EE then sent the following email to his wife, “Take all of the listing for VB down. VB has caught you.”

So, it appears the Embassy Employee and his wife were being given the opportunity to stop what they were doing by the brand, change their counterfeiting ways, and get on with their lives. But, they did not heed the call.

After the couple laid low for seventeen (17) months, in September 2019, they created a number of additional e-commerce accounts under various aliases and resumed the counterfeit sale of Vera Bradley products.

TRUTH CONTINUES TO BE STRANGER THAN FICTION

You cannot make this stuff up.

Here is a U.S. embassy employee that is conspiring with his wife to sell counterfeits through his State Department computer. And, even after getting caught, husband and wife resume selling counterfeits of the same brand. Apparently, he did not recognize how easy it would be for the brand to determine the counterfeits were coming from a U.S. government computer network.

C’mon man!

INVESTIGATED BY:

U.S. Diplomatic Security Service Office of Special Investigations and the U.S Postal Inspection Service.

Disclaimer: IPPIBlog.com is offered as a service to the professional IP community. While every effort has been made to check information in this blog, we provide no guarantees or warranties, express or implied, with regard to content provided in IPPIBlog.com. We disclaim any and all liability and responsibility for the qualification or accuracy of representations made by the contributors or for any disputes that may arise. It is the responsibility of the readers to independently investigate and verify the credentials of such person and the accuracy and validity of the information provided by them. This blog is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice.

Did you find this post useful?
I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join other IP protection professionals, i.e., investigators, attorneys, and brand protection specialists and receive updates straight to your inbox.
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Ron Alvarez is an IP Investigations / Protection writer and licensed private investigator in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has published a number of articles on various investigative topics for PI Magazine. Ron is certified by the Interpol-International IP Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC.) as a "Transnational and Organized Crime Intellectual Property (IP) Investigator."

1 comment on “Persistent Counterfeiters: U.S. State Department Employee and Spouse

  1. THOMAS MANLEY

    Thank You
    I have the sense that this sort of counterfeiting is the tip
    of the proverbial iceberg
    Tom Manley Special Agent FBI -Retired

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get the Global IP Investigations and Enforcement Perspective

Industry content delivered straight to your inbox.
Email address
Secure and Spam free...
%d bloggers like this: