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Jewelers Arrested, $31 Million In Counterfeit Goods Seized

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two jewelry store owners are under arrest and $31 million worth of fake jewelry has been confiscated following a counterfeit bust at a jewelry store in West Miami.

The co-owners of 'The Lord of the Rings Jewelry' store, Jimmy Hernandez and Tania Varona were each charged with counterfeiting goods in excess of $20,000 as police seized merchandise from the business at 6230 SW 8 Street earlier this month.

Police put many of the phony items on display Friday at a news conference in an effort to educate the public on how to avoid becoming a victim.

"In a case like this with jewelry your jewelry falls apart you're paying higher than you would for a non-name brand or generic piece and it's going to fall apart almost instantly," explained Miami-Dade Police detective Michael L. Hufnagel Jr.

Some of the high-end, but fake designer names being sold were Cartier, Chanel, Gucci and Rolex. The items were being sold for less than one-tenth of what the authentic goods would really cost, according to police.

"You're getting Chanel necklaces for $18 apiece. Chanel will never sell a necklace at $18 apiece. No matter how small you get," said Det. Hufnagel.

Other fake goods included Luis Vuitton, Bvlgari Tous, Van Clef & Arpels, Cartier, Tory, Michael Kors, Dita, Hermes, Movado, Tiffany & Co., Christian Dior, and Ray Ban sunglasses. The arrest documents state the items being sold appear to be identical to the authentic brand products.

Detectives understand that a lot of people may see this as a victimless crime, but, stress that is far from the truth.

"They're not paying state taxes, they're not paying income taxes, they're not being a viable part of our society and when you do this you're just buying something that's just going to last you a night and that's it," stated Hufnagel.

The jewelry store co-owners are not only in trouble with the law for selling the fake goods, police say the name of the store, 'The Lord of the Rings', is also illegal.

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