Three charged, $2.5M worth of goods seized in counterfeiting investigation
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, December 9, 2016 11:45AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 9, 2016 4:32PM EST
Toronto Police have charged the owner of an Etobicoke import/export business with fraud and other offences after $2.5 million worth of counterfeit toys, makeup, sunglasses, household appliances and other items were seized last week.
Det. Rob Whalen said police were contacted by a number of people complaining that makeup they had bought was causing rashes and other skin issues when they used it.
Next, a number of people reported the battery-operated appliances they had purchased were overheating and failing.
Police tracked down where the items were sold and eventually executed four search warrants throughout the city.
One search was conducted at a store in the underground level beneath the Novotel at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue West on Dec. 2.
Coincidentally, an international conference on combatting counterfeit goods was being held in the hotel at the time of the raid.
“We received information from some of the guests (of the conference) that this was being sold downstairs,” Whalen said.
Another search was executed at Lucky’s Import and Wholesale, located at 1607 The Queensway in Etobicoke.
A total of 16 tractor-trailer loads of goods were seized.
Three people were arrested, two for immigration violations.
Whalen said that when police began testing the goods, the found toys like Thomas the Tank Engines that would break, and wireless earphones that would overheat and melt when engaged.
“Just about every child I know chews on Thomas the Train, so we’re going to have it tested to see if it contains lead paint,” Whalen said.
They also found fake Magic Bullet blenders. When Whalen plugged one in and turned it on, he said it worked for 10 to 15 seconds, and then began to sizzle and smoke.
Also seized were fake Ray Ban sunglasses, steam cleaners, Hoberman spheres, Beats speaker sets, and a variety of other toys.
The owner of Lucky’s Import and Wholesale, identified as 46-year-old Hock Chan of Mississauga, faces charges including possession of property obtained by crime, fraud over $5,000 and passing off wares.
He was released on bail, Whalen said.
The two other individuals arrested may face deportation.
Supt. Bryce Evans said the top ten items counterfeiters reproduce are purses, watches, other jewelry, smartphones, shoes, DVDs, medication, computers, designer goods and foods.
Since 2010, Toronto Police have seized $21 million-worth of counterfeit goods.
He said counterfeit goods sales often support organized crime and in at least one instance, proceeds were used to support terrorism.
Evans cited the 2016 report from the French NGO Unifab, which says the Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula- inspired terrorists who perpetrated the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in Jan. 2015 sold counterfeit Nike running shoes to raise money to buy rifles.
Whalen said consumers must be extremely wary when preparing to make a purchase, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“When you go to make a purchase, research your product and try to find it at a legitimate source.”