BUFFALO, N.Y. – An upstate New York man was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with trafficking in counterfeit goods. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2,000,000 fine. In addition, 15 websites allegedly selling counterfeit sporting merchandise were seized by federal law enforcement agents. The websites were seized as part of a global enforcement operation that targeted more than 130 websites operating worldwide. All of this is the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
According to the criminal complaint, in August 2012, Gary C. Hammer, 47, of Cheektowaga, N.Y., listed Microsoft Vista Business and Microsoft Office software for sale on Craigslist. Further investigation determined that the merchandise being sold by the Hammer was counterfeit. Although the defendant was served Oct. 23 with a cease and desist letter from Microsoft Corporation, he continued to sell counterfeit Microsoft merchandise. He was arrested Nov 21.
Hammer made an initial appearance in court the same day as his arrest. He released on his own recognizance and is due back in court Dec. 12, 2012, at 11:00 a.m.
In a separate action, early this morning HSI special agents seized 15 websites that allegedly sold counterfeit sporting merchandise. According to the affidavit in support of the seizure warrants, some of the websites sold caps allegedly manufactured by New Era Cap, a Buffalo-based company.
"The manufacturing and selling of "knock off" goods hurts businesses and people across a wide spectrum of our society," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. "Victims of these crimes include not only those who create intellectual property and the employees of the legitimate businesses who turn the ideas into products Consumers are also hurt by unknowingly obtaining inferior or potentially harmful products, as are taxpayers who are unable to rely on taxes from legitimate sales to fund programs which benefit the community. I would therefore urge all to exercise caution knowing that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
"As we remind consumers, buying knockoffs doesn't pay off," said James C. Spero, special agent in charge of HSI Buffalo. "Those who sell counterfeit merchandise are robbing from the legitimate companies, many of them U.S.-based, that make these products. And perhaps most important, they're hurting the men and women who depend on those companies for their livelihood. Intellectual property theft amounts to economic sabotage, which is why HSI will continue to aggressively pursue product counterfeiters and those who sell counterfeit products."
The arrest and seizures are part of Project Cyber Monday 3 and Project Transatlantic, both efforts to crack down on counterfeit goods sold online during the holiday shopping season. They are the culmination of an investigation on the part of HSI.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiGiacomo and Kevin D. Robinson, Western District of New York, are prosecuting these cases on behalf of the U.S. government.