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U.S. Attorney General Awards Grant To Baltimore Co. To Crack Down On Counterfeit Goods

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ)-- Buying a cheap knock-off may seem like a bargain but it's criminals making a profit.

Alex DeMetrick reports cracking down on counterfeiting is rapidly going from global to local.

The shoes are a brand name. Only everything about them, from quality to the Nike swoosh, is phony. It's part of a knock-off industry that includes cosmetics made from who-knows-what to pirated movies and music.

Counterfeit intellectual property (IP) hurts here: Billions of dollars lost to retailers and manufacturers. In an expanded crackdown, United States Attorney General Eric Holder awarded a $125,000 grant to Baltimore County.

"To advance prosecutions, as well as prevention and education related to IP theft," Holder said.

This past spring, federal agents swooped in and raided the Patapsco Flea Market in Baltimore.

"They hit the door, they bum-rushed the door, say about 10 agents to each door and just took everything," Brian Donlong, an eyewitness, said.

"Seizing merchandise that is either counterfeit, pirated or unlicensed," William Winter, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent, said of the raid.

Taking everything that was phony. It added up.

"Approximately $500,000 worth of valued property," Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said.

That seizure is only a fraction of the counterfeit goods entering Maryland.

Nine people were prosecuted after shipping containers at the Port of Baltimore were found full of knock-offs.

"It included 500,000 Coach handbags, 120,000 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes, 10,000 pairs of counterfeit Coach and Gucci shoes, 500 Cartier watches and also counterfeit Viagra pills," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said.

IP theft of pharmaceuticals could cause illness and cheap outlets could burn down a house-- dangers giving new impetus to raids.

Baltimore County is one of a dozen jurisdictions to receive a grant and will use the money to support police officers assigned to crack down on counterfeit goods.

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