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Local woman pleads guilty to selling counterfeit handbags

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2012

St. Louis, MO - Jeannine Buford of St. Louis, Missouri, pleaded guilty earlier today to selling counterfeit Hermés handbags over the internet.

Between January 2006 and October 2011, Buford operated an internet-based business out of her home. Buford purchased the counterfeit purses from a manufacturer in China and sold the Hermés handbags over the internet to buyers who believed that they were purchasing authentic Hermés handbags. The internet sites she used to sell the handbags were: www.deluxemall.com, www.hauteexclusives.com and www.houseofhermes.blogspot.com.

In September 2011, the FBI conducted an undercover operation in which Buford sold a counterfeit Hermés handbag to one of their agents.

"There were almost 100 victims worldwide who were defrauded. One person paid as much as $100,000 for the fake handbags," said Special Agent in Charge Dean C. Bryant of the FBI St. Louis Division. "This scheme was brought to light when a victim alertly filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.IC3.gov)."

"While I am not smart enough to understand why someone pays $15,000 for a handbag, I definitely understand that women’s purses, like shoes, are not something to be trifled with," observed United States Attorney Richard Callahan.

Investigators have estimated that Buford netted over a half of million dollars in sales just from March of 2010 through April of 2011.

JEANNINE BUFORD pleaded guilty to one felony count of trafficking in counterfeit goods before United States District Judge Audrey Fleissig. As part of her plea, she has agreed to the forfeiture of a Chevrolet Camaro, a Porsche Cayenne, $5,738 cash and numerous designer handbags. Sentencing has been set for September 20, 2012.

This charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $2 million. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.

If you believe that you may have purchased a counterfeit handbag from Buford, please contact the FBI at 314-589-2500.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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