Louis Vuitton Employee Busted in Multi-Million Dollar Counterfeit Scheme

Sep 9, 2020 | BIZ, China, NEWS, STYLE

A guest is seen wearing Louis Vuitton shoes during President 45’s address at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct 17, 2019, at the Louis Vuitton Workshop- Rochambeau in Alvarado, Texas. (Official WH Photo by Shealah Craighead)

There’s no denying COVID-19 slowed down fashion brands around the world, and Louis Vuitton’s empire is no exception. However, the brand is facing another issue at this tumultuous time with the latest bust of counterfeit products.

The plot is rich as it was like taken straight from a movie – a Louis Vuitton sales representative from their Guangzhou store has been accused of repeatedly selling bags before its launch at a high price to counterfeiting companies.

This head start became a shining opportunity for them to produce counterfeits ahead of time, and release them when the original products rolled out in the market.

The Counterfeit Scheme

According to the Paris-based brand, the employee involved in the issue has already been terminated, although they did not confirm if any legal action was taken against the individual, as well as other people involved with the counterfeit issue. Louis Vuitton and the authorities still haven’t released any detail as to the extent to which the fake bags have been out in the market.  

Just last month, Shanghai’s police force took 62 gangs into custody for copying bags from the French fashion brand. In the process, police also seized dozens of equipment sets needed to manufacture fake products, along with more than 100,000 pieces of raw material, as well as 2,000 fake bags. The raw materials were estimated to be worth a staggering $14.6 million. 

Perhaps the large sum of the seized products was because these counterfeit items were far from the usual ones people see displayed on flea markets. In fact, the bags and other items were done by mimicking the tech used by big brands and other luxury good sellers. The gangs looked into various methods to accurately mimic the bags so customers could not tell fakes from originals. 

The Chinese counterfeit organizations even went the extra mile by attaching Near Field Communication or NFC tags. These are small sensors that are attached to the inside of luxury garments and accessories that enable brands to program information that can be viewed by customers in smartphones and other devices. The use of this technology is not unheard of for luxury brands like Salvatore Ferragamo, but it’s remarkable because authentic Louis Vuitton bags hasn’t even released NFC tags yet. Nonetheless, if a buyer would scan the counterfeit tag, they would be redirected to the official website of Louis Vuitton, therefore intensifying the illusion of authenticity.  

“Louis Vuitton has a zero-tolerance policy in regards to counterfeiting and this remains one of Louis Vuitton’s main commitments to its clients,” stated Louis Vuitton, adding that “counterfeiting is the violation of the craftsmen’s talent, skills and the creativity of the artists to whom Louis Vuitton owes its success. Louis Vuitton is more determined than ever to preserve creativity in protecting its brand in the interest of its clients, its employees, and those who suffer at the hands of the counterfeiting industry.”

Counterfeit Among the Fashion World

News of the siege comes at the same time as a number of people appeared in French court for a trial over the sale of high-quality fake Hermès bags by an organized crime ring that boasts ties to the company itself. Hermès is famous for its best-selling 10,000-dolar Kelly and Birkin bags, named after iconic celebrities Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin. 

Among the defendants for the counterfeit case, seven were former Hermès employees, who are now being tried for intellectual property infringement charges, as well as abus de confidance or criminal breach of trust. This French action arises from the misuse of company property of money.

Efforts to Get Rid of Counterfeit Products

Louis Vuitton has intensified their efforts to eliminate counterfeiting with the launch of the Aura platform in 2019. According to Vogue, the blockchain was developed to prevent counterfeits, help customers track their items, and provide proof of origin.