The secret life of a suburban counterfeiter
SHANGHAI This could be the story of an American dream. An immigrant family builds a successful business and buys a four bedroom house in a quiet neighbourhood with good schools for their young son. But not all is as it seems on the steep, curving streets of San Diego’s Rancho Penasquitos.
A 45 year old Chinese woman, Xu Ting, lives in a brown shingle house with a weedy driveway. She has been sued for counterfeiting by eight luxury brands, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and owes Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages. None of this has stopped her from becoming a legal permanent resident of the United States and achieving a comfortable suburban life.
China is not the only country with a counterfeiting problem. Most fakes are made in China, but they are sold in America. Counterfeiting is not a priority on par with drug smuggling or money laundering, and is rarely prosecuted as a crime. The lack of legal co operation with China makes it easy for counterfeiters to move their money beyond the reach of Western law enforcement and hard to root out counterfeiting kingpins.
As long as counterfeiters can stay out of jail and hold on to their profits and consumers continue to buy 1:1 replica handbags the trade in fakes will likely thrive.
Despite spending millions on brand protection, companies often end up playing whack a mole, shutting down producers and distributors of fakes, only to see them pop up again. Xu Ting simply refused to show up in court over the years. show.
“There’s a million ways to game the system,” said Dan Plane, an intellectual property lawyer at Simone IP Services in Hong Kong, who is not involved in litigation against Xu Ting. “Probably the only thing that’s going to stop her is when she passes away probably on an island resort somewhere or if high quality replica handbags china she gets arrested.”
In the web of lies that counterfeiters weave fake names, fake addresses, fake Internet domain registrations one thing is always true: their bank account information.
The need to get paid is the counterfeiter’s replica louis vuitton bags fatal flaw, and Xu Ting’s bank accounts were the first crack in her armour of misdirection.
Her legal troubles began in 2008, when a federal judge in California ordered Xu Ting fake louis bag who declined fake designer bags multiple high quality designer replica handbags wholesale requests for comment for this story to pay Chanel Inc. $6.9 million in damages for selling counterfeits online. She still hasn’t paid the damages, according to Chanel spokeswoman Kathrin Schurrer.
“The essential point for Chanel is really shutting down the counterfeiting operations, which we did successfully,” Schurrer wrote in an email.
But after the lawsuit, Xu Ting’s business continued to grow.
In 2009, a Florida judge ruled against Xu Ting and shut down seven websites she was accused of helping run that sold fake Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Celine. She did not show up in court.
That case didn’t stop her either. customers. Gucci alleges that the group shipped merchandise from China to a house in San Diego, where it was repackaged and passed off as genuine.
Four days after the suit was filed, Xu Ting married a Chinese man, Xu Lijun, a civil engineer licensed in California who is six years her junior, according to her marriage license issued in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon.
Gucci subpoenaed banking records. JP Morgan Chase handed over account records with a wealth of information about the couple: addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license, Social Security and passport numbers and a student identification card.
In November 2010, Xu Lijun reached a settlement with Gucci cheap louis vuitton bags from china the only defendant to do so. He denied wrongdoing but agreed to let Gucci keep $400,000 in counterfeiting proceeds seized from accounts outside China. He also agreed to pay a $7,500 fine, according to a copy of the judge’s order.
Eric Siegle, a New York City lawyer who represented Xu Lijun, said he was “a small time nobody,” and that Gucci’s lawsuit replica louis vuitton bags , like many others, failed to tackle the real powers behind the operation.
“The people they are arresting or suing here in the United States are low level people,” Siegle said. “If you can find where the money is going dolabuy , you can get to cheap replica handbags the heart of the problem. It’s like the drug wars. Why are we arresting all these kids on street corners?”
But Gucci, which is seeking $12 million in damages, couldn’t find where the money was going because Chinese banks, including the state run Bank of China, refused to disclose transaction details about 1:1 replica handbags the counterfeiters’ accounts in China.
“BOC cannot comply with such orders without violating Chinese law,” the Bank of China said in an email.
Kering declined to comment on pending litigation, but spokeswoman Charlotte Judet said aaa replica designer handbags in an email that Gucci would “vigorously enforce any judgment eventually entered against individuals who seek to tarnish its worldwide reputation for excellence no matter where they are located.”
Meanwhile, in 2013, Xu Lijun bought the house in Rancho Penasquitos, according to property records. Two weeks after the sale cheap louis vuitton bags from china , Xu Ting transferred her stake in the property to her husband.
A slight man in wire rimmed glasses who answered the door at the Rancho Penasquitos house identified himself as Xu Lijun. Behind him, in a two story foyer, there were voices of a woman and young child. Xu Lijun asked an Associated Press reporter why he had come, then said, “I don’t want to talk to you.”
At a sprawling company compound in Beijing, no one answered the door at Xu Ting’s family apartment.
“My client also thinks making counterfeits is illegal, but they did not make them,” Chen said. “She is exercising her rights replica designer handbags when choosing not to appear in court, which shouldn’t merit any moral or legal judgment.”
Xu Ting’s legal troubles did not prevent her from getting a green card. In February 2014, she became a legal permanent resident by virtue of being married to someone with an advanced degree or “extraordinary ability,” according to the person familiar with the matter.