Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Arrests Of Five Defendants For Conspiring To Defraud Consumers Through The Sale Of Counterfeit Luxury Goods
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, the Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), today announced the unsealing of an Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging JOSEPH MOSSERI, ALBERT MOSSERI, ODED HAKIM, a/k/a “Eddie Hakim,” ELLIOT SHASHO, and ANDREW LI, for their alleged participation in a scheme that victimized hundreds of consumers and numerous credit card processers through the marketing and sale of counterfeit luxury handbags over the Internet. JOSEPH MOSSERI, HAKIM, SHASHO, and LI were arrested today. ALBERT MOSSERI also surrendered today to USPIS. JOSEPH MOSSERI will be presented in Manhattan federal court this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein, and the remaining defendants will be presented tomorrow.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “I would like to thank our partners, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, for their outstanding investigative efforts and assistance in bringing this alleged counterfeiting scheme to light.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “When criminals counterfeit goods they harm the economy and legitimate businesses that pay their fair share in taxes and employ American citizens. It’s the same as identity theft, but only from a brand. Postal Inspectors have little tolerance for this type of theft and will aggressively investigate and bring to justice anyone who defrauds American consumers.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
The defendants and others controlled a series of websites that advertised and sold luxury fashion and other name-brand items – primarily handbags – at prices of up to $3,000. The websites advertised that the goods offered for sale were authentic and that they were offered at a discount because of manufacturing defects that were, according to one of the websites, “infrequently noticeable to the consumer.” In fact, however, the defendants either never shipped goods to consumers who ordered them or shipped goods that were verifiably counterfeit.
In order to prevent the proceeds of their scheme from being eroded by credit card chargebacks initiated by deceived customers, the defendants also defrauded the credit card processors for the websites by misrepresenting the reasons for disputed charges and obstructing efforts by credit card processors to recover disputed funds. The losses attributable to such efforts exceeded, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
JOSEPH MOSSERI, ALBERT MOSSERI, HAKIM, and SHASHO directed the scheme and managed its finances. LI supplied the counterfeit luxury goods that were sold on the websites.
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JOSEPH MOSSERI, 43; ALBERT MOSSERI, 34; HAKIM, 46; SHASHO, 41; and LI, 34, all of Brooklyn, New York, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of substantive wire fraud, and one count of trademark counterfeiting. Each of the fraud counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The trademark counterfeiting count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein has been assigned to the case.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Postal Inspection Service. He also thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their assistance.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott A. Hartman is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Indictments are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.