Woman makes $600,000 selling fake handbags out of her Wash Ave. loft

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on June 12, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 13 at 1:24 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – A St. Louis woman is facing prison time after selling counterfeit handbags online. Jeannie Buford pleaded guilty to running an internet-based business out of her Washington Avenue loft, and says she’s been doing it for years. The fakes were sold as the real deal, some of which cost as much as $20,000.

Investigators have identified 99 victims so far.

US Attorney Richard Callahan says he will prosecute more cases like this - because of the harm it does to the economy.

“People don’t give enough thought I guess to the economic harm that knock offs and counterfeit goods do to our economy in the long run,” he said.

In this case, the woman admitted to buying face Hermes bags from China, then passing them off as real.

“It’s a very heavy bag,” Callahan said. “You can get a sense why it took a while before someone discovered they were, in fact, counterfeit.”

The bag was stamped with the Hermes logo, and appeared to be legitimate. But it turned out to be an expensive rip off.

Court records spell out how a customer tipped off the FBI when she paid $15,800 for a Hermes Birkin bag she later suspected it was counterfeit.

Investigators searched 34-year-old Buford’s residence and found more than 132 phoney bags, along with evidence she took in more than $600,000 in sales between March of 2010 and last April.

“I’m not smart enough to know what makes a purse worth 15 thousand dollars,” Callahan said. “But women’s purses and shoes are a mysterious area.”

Investigators are still identifying the all victims.

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