Mumbi police on Friday arrested the owner of a high-end store at the five-star The Leela hotel at Sahara for manufacturing fake Louis Vuitton products, reports Mumbai Mirror.
Police along with the Enforcers of Intellectual Property Rights (EIPR), an anti-counterfeit investigating agency, conducted a raid at ‘On Earth' and seized a haul of fake accessories that could have been sold illegally at an unearthly Rs 2.2 crore.
While most of the seized artificial luxuries were branded Louis Vuitton, the store had fake Burberry goods worth Rs 70 lakh as well. The shop was also stripped of monogrammed raw material, used by it to put together these phoney products – bags, clutch, belts and wallets. These wares were manufactured, rather remarkably, in the loft of the store. “We found rolls of fake Louis Vuitton raw material and lining material,” said a spokesperson of EIPR.
Sahar Police have arrested Naseer Niyaz, 37, the owner of On Earth. API Vijay Salunkhe said, “We've seized the fakes and arrested Niyaz under Sections 51 and 63 of Indian Copyright Act. It is a non-bailable offence.”
The EIPR spokesperson said the scam came to light after their inspector identified an imitation LV – an abbreviation used for the company by brand hogs. The bag was tagged at Rs 80,000. “After a series of investigations, we were certain he was selling fake branded products. We are authorised by Louis Vuitton to detect counterfeits and an infringement of their brands,” the spokesperson said.
According to EIPR, Niyaz, 37, had been running the store for the past 20 years at the basement of the five star. He also sold Prada, Chanel and other luxury brands to tourists and travellers.
This raid and arrest may send many tucking away their hitherto pride-pieces. But these buyers are not likely to win the sympathy of those in the know in the fashion world. Socialite Queenie Singh said, “Nobody from Mumbai would go to the Leela and shop for a Louis Vuitton. They'd know that they are shopping for fakes. It is well known that original LVs are sold at only two outlets in the city.”
Gayatri Ruia, luxury, consumer and business development director, Palladium, is of the same opinion. “Brands are very careful about their placements and have stringent controls, especially in emerging markets. No luxury brand would sell its product in a covert manner. The items would have a serial number, a logo and even certificates.”
The company is hoping that this raid will alert gullible shoppers. Tikka Shatrujit Singh, Advisor to Chairman, Louis Vuitton, said, “Our products are sold in retail only out of an LV store. Anything else is counterfeit and hence, illegal. An educated traveller would know where to shop. Multi-brand stores rarely stock originals. I am surprised that something like this could happen at The Leela.”