Former Queens, N.Y., Resident Arrested For Smuggling Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Counterfeit Brand Name Apparel From China Into The United States
Defendant Posed as Business Rep to Traffic in Fake “Nike” Sneakers, “UGG” Boots and “NFL” Jerseys
A complaint was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, charging former Queens, New York, resident Su Ming Ling with smuggling and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods for his participation in a sophisticated scheme to import approximately 200 shipping containers of counterfeit brand-name apparel from the People’s Republic of China.
Ling was arrested last night in California as he attempted to board a flight from San Francisco to Taiwan. Ling made his initial appearance today at the Phillip Burton Federal Building and United States Courthouse in San Francisco, California, before United States Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim. Ling was ordered detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday, September 6, 2017.
The arrest was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Debra Parker, Acting Special-Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) Newark Division, and Leon Hayward, Acting Director, New York Field Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“Using a combination of internet savvy and old-fashioned counterfeit distribution techniques, defendant Ling perpetrated a lucrative counterfeiting scheme involving fake name-brand items,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to protecting the intellectual property of U.S. brands, on which the economic integrity of U.S. markets depend.”
“Homeland Security Investigations has seized counterfeit goods from Mr. Ling’s criminal organization,” stated Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Parker. “HSI and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are committed to dismantling transnational counterfeiting that significantly impacts local economies. These arrests and seizures embody our commitment to disrupting the importation and sale of counterfeit goods.”
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforcement actions provided a critical link in an ongoing investigation that resulted in the takedown of an elaborate criminal enterprise,” stated CBP Acting Director Hayward. “It is through our interagency partnerships, and collaborative approaches like the one leading to today’s arrests, that law enforcement successfully combats modern criminal organizations.”
According to the complaint unsealed this morning, between May 2013 and January 2017, Ling used aliases to register and create numerous Internet domain names and email addresses that resembled the Internet domain names of real U.S. businesses. The defendant then used the fraudulently obtained email addresses to pose as a representative of the real businesses, and hired CBP-licensed customs brokers for file customs entry forms on behalf of the businesses whose identities he had stolen. Ling provided those customs brokers with falsified shipping documents for numerous shipments of counterfeit brand-name apparel that misrepresented the true contents of the shipping containers. Working with co-conspirators, Ling then arranged for the shipping containers of counterfeit goods to be distributed to, among other places, warehouses and storage facilities in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, and in New Jersey.
The shipping containers inspected by HSI and CBP were found to contain purported brand-name merchandise including purported Nike brand sneakers, UGG brand boots, National Football League-brand athletic jerseys, and True Religion brand jeans which CBP import specialists later determined to be counterfeit.
As detailed in the complaint, after searching the defendant’s cellular telephones in December 2015, HSI agents found photographs and notes of names and email addresses the defendant kept in an apparent effort to keep track of his fraudulent identities. Among other things, HSI agents found messages between Ling and his coconspirators with delivery instructions and photographs of delivery orders for shipping containers that HSI and CBP had inspected and found to contain counterfeit apparel.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, the defendant faces a statutory maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment for smuggling, and 10 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Ian C. Richardson and Alexander Mindlin are in charge of the prosecution.
SU MING LING
Former Residence: Middle Village, Queens
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-MJ-774