“I was sold a fake,” is more common than anyone wants to admit. There are years of stories where anything from lone wolfs to organized crime had coordinated efforts to defraud designer brands by replacing real designer goods with high-quality fakes. Sometimes the designer boutique employees are involved in the scam, and sometimes, they are merely victims of the scam.
Here is a real story: “But they bought this directly from the boutique” is no longer enough❗️Scammers are returning counterfeit goods to the original boutique and guess who gets stuck with the counterfeit bag? YOU 😱 An unknowing shopper who wouldn’t think twice about authenticity when purchasing directly from the brand itself 🔍 Sales associates are simply not trained to detect high-quality fakes these days.
The last time we were in Celine, the sales associate had never even heard of a super fake 🤷🏼♂️ Imagine the sales associate was hired just a few short months ago, or even a year of training would not provide them with the expertise needed to detect a high-quality counterfeit🙅🏻♀️ As we have seen far too many times before, counterfeiters know they can sneak by an untrained sales associate quite easily.
Astonishingly, these replicas and fake handbags accidentally (or intentionally) also get sold at the designer brand boutiques. In 2011, Hermès, dealt with a fake supply chain made up of 30,045 pieces that made its way to a boutique in downtown Florence.
Louis Vuitton has two recent incidents in China where they faced consumer backlash for unintentionally selling fakes. In 2020, the brand grappled with a counterfeiting case involving a salesperson at the Louis Vuitton store. And then, in September 2021, a customer was actually sold a fake Louis Vuitton bag at the brand’s store. In this case, LV was ordered to reimburse the customer despite admiralty denying any such incident occurred.
Many experts believe they were victims of a strategic scam where fraudsters would replace the designer items with high-quality replicas and then keep or sell the real designer items. Novice or lazy sales associates can definitely play a role in the fake intake and product switching scams. In a Louis Vuitton boutique a few years back, we personally witnessed the return of a limited edition keepall that was simply removed from the dust bag, placed on the back counter (not even opened or checked in the slightest) before the customer received a full refund and left the store. It was shocking. In malicious instances, the sales associate may intentionally handle their co-conspirators’ transactions during their shift and knowingly allows them to return the fakes to make out with real merchandise. Brands are grappling with these realities as schemes become more and more nuanced.