Greek Financial Cops Catch Chinese Counterfeit Sneaker Crowd

(Photo: SDOE via Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – While doing a lot of legitimate business with China, Greece is also dealing with trying to rein in knock-off goods with Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) investigators saying they tracked down a racket that sold at least 3.27 million euros ($3.62 million) in fake foot sportswear.

Investigators started to break up the gang after intercepting a cargo container at the port of Piraeus on Sept. 20 that contained nearly 8,000 pairs of shoes that came from China and bore the logos of the popular sportswear brands Nike and Adidas, worth more than one million euros ($1.11 million) said Kathimerini.

That gave the SDOE critical evidence into the activities of the racket, which reportedly advertised authentic sneakers at bargain prices on social media platforms like Facebook and allowed buyers to pay on delivery and had operated for two years before it was finally shut down.

Counterfeit goods, including handbags spread on blankets on sidewalks, have been openly sold in Greece although crackdowns have cut down the presence although the country, at an entry point to the European Union is still being used to bring in fake goods.

In March this year, cccasional busts by Greek police of counterfeit goods rings hadn’t helped the country’s ranking or reputation for letting street sellers peddle fake goods, with the country 14th in the world for illicit good traffic.

That was shown in a report from the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the country

With the port of Piraeus being one of the busiest in the Mediterranean and Europe, the data – from 2016, the latest available – showed the European Union awash in counterfeit goods.

Those are mainly lather goods, watches, perfumes and cosmetics, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses, toys, electronic goods such as cell phones, drugs and with smuggled cigarettes sold openly on streets in Athens, even around areas with police stations.

According to confiscations by customs authorities in the European Union, the main countries of origin of the fake stuff are China, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, India and Malaysia. China is the top producer of counterfeit goods in nine out of the 10 main categories.

In August, 2017, EUIPO and the European Police Office (Europol) showed Greece a key entry point for the counterfeit goods, including jewelry, cosmetics, toys, fake handbags, knock off designer products, watches, clothes and other goods sold openly, especially in tourist areas.

Also being hurt though are Greek trademark products, such as bogus feta cheese being sneaked into the country and resold as the report found the counterfeit goods market is much higher than previously thought.

Some 85 billion euros ($100.27 billion) per year is being lost to the counterfeit products which annually are believed to be a 390 billion euro ($460.06 billion) market, including fake perfumes, cosmetics, clothing footwear among the most common imitation products entering the EU.

In Greece, a total of 7,306,656 packets of cigarettes deemed illegal were confiscated in 2015, according to the report, as they were sold on the streets by hordes of illegal immigrants even near police stations at times.

The authors of the report estimated that Greece, close to the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, is likely a gateway for the fakes – as well as smuggled cigarettes – as it is for refugees and migrants hoping to move on to other EU countries.

The other projection is that Greek customs authorities are focusing their efforts on people smuggling the genuine product in from abroad without the payment of domestic duty, Kathimerini said.