NY Councilwoman Seeks Law Penalizing Buyers of Counterfeit Bags

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Sheet showing styles of counterfeit handbags available from a vendor in Chinatown.

Sheet showing styles of counterfeit handbags available from a vendor in Chinatown.

New York—One New York City Councilwoman hopes to quash the sales of fake designer handbags by fining—or threatening jail time—to buyers of fake handbags in New York.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose district includes Chinatown one of the leading sources for faux designer bags, said she will introduce a bill that would give a $1,000 fine to the purchasers of fake bags right along with the sellers of them. Violators also could be sentenced to up to one year in jail.

“We want to sort of cut down on the demand,” Chin said, adding that penalties have always focused on the sellers of the bags, not the buyers. “We see the transactions happening in the street in our community, and this has got to stop, and it’s really a tool for the police officers, because when they see it happening, they can give a summons or arrest, you know, people who buy these things.”

Chin dismissed the idea that a middle-aged housewife might unknowingly purchase a counterfeit bag. “If you go into a back room, basement or van, you probably know what you’re doing is not legal,” she said.

By threatening penalties on a buyers as well as sellers, Chin hope to curb demand.

“People think it’s an adventure,” Chin told the New York Post. “It’s always illegal for people to sell, but it’s not illegal for the people who buy this stuff. Hopefully, this law will cut down on the demand.”

The counterfeit handbag market in New York City is huge. In 2012, U.S. Customs estimated that it seized $348 million worth of counterfeit in New York.


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