The master of counterfeiting is in trouble. In fact, the Public Prosecutor’s office in Paris has accused a French leather goods manufacturer of producing and marketing fake Birkin bags for over 20 years. The prosecuting counsels have been investigating, besides him, 26 more people, including 9 former employees of Hermès, the fashion house which designed and produced Birkin bag. This is one more alleged counterfeiting case regarding the iconic bag, following a previous one which came to light last September. At that time, the Court of Paris convicted 10 defendants, among whom 7 former employees of Hermès.
They have marketed fake Birkin bags
The prosecuting counsels started investigations in 2011, after a highlighting submitted by the fashion brand itself. After long investigating, they brought to light an alleged criminal network which was up to production and trade of counterfeited items, from 2008 until 2012. Their modus operandi was quite simple. As reported by france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr, French authorities considered the manager of a leather goods business, based in Paris, to be the boss of the organization. He used to purchase, from one of Hermès Italian suppliers, crocodile leather hides, whose quality was lower compared to the fashion brand’s ones.
Subsequently, they used to sell leather hides to an ex-employee of Hermès, residing in Hong Kong, where they carried out the manufacturing at first. Yet, in 2012, the group reportedly changed their laboratory as they opted for an undercover one in France: likewise, an ex-employee of the fashion house was in charge. Finally, three people used to oversee, supposedly, the fake product marketing and sale in Europe and in Asia.
The master of counterfeiting
One of the defendants under investigation is an artisan. The prosecuting counsels accused him of producing hundreds of fake Birkin bags and subsequently selling them: thanks to that activity, he could make astronomical profits. As highlighted by france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr, reportedly the artisan confessed he has manufactured 455 counterfeited bags, starting from 1998. Allegedly, the artisan used to sell each bag for 18,000 euros, therefore taking over 8 million euros overall.
Yet investigators have been estimating that such activity could drive up to 18 million euros a year, in terms of profits, pocketed by the alleged criminal organization. In the meantime, the French leather goods manufacturer, who is considered the alleged boss of the organization, has denied all accusations. As reported by fr.fashionnetwork.com, in the last few hours the man, who had to appear in court, admitted before the Parisian magistrates he “ingenuously” provided his expertise, but he denied the accusation of being the chief organizer: “At first, personally I just used to sell hides. Nothing more than that. Yet I was unaware of their use”.