Authorities seized $25 million in counterfeit designer watches, belts and purses from a Floral Park father and his two sons who sold the fake items that were shipped to their New Hyde Park warehouse from China, officials said Wednesday.
The arrests of Mahmood Nasir, 55, Ramish Nasir, 22, and Rubail Nasir, 18, about 6:20 a.m. Tuesday at their Willis Avenue home, followed a six-month investigation into the trio, who ordered the fake merchandise from China and distributed it to low-level street sellers across the region, police said.
Investigators from the Nassau County Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the NYPD — part of a task force at Kennedy Airport — seized thousands of fake watches bearing such brand names as Rolex and Gucci, and other accessories such as scarves and pocketbooks purporting to be produced by high-end designers Louis Vuitton and Burberry, authorities said.
The items, which police described as good knockoffs complete with fake serial numbers and bogus authenticity paperwork, were shipped through Kennedy Airport to the family’s business — Broadway Watch Outlet Co. in New Hyde Park.
Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder called the actions of the Nasirs a “scam” on consumers and the American tax system and urged shoppers to beware of a too-good deal.
“Make sure it’s a real Rolex,” Ryder said. “Buy from a legitimate store. We’re always trying to get a better deal, but someone on the street who’s trying to sell you a watch for half the price, it’s probably not the right watch.”
Authorities executed three search warrants Tuesday at the Nasir home, at Storage 1-2-3 on South Third Street in New Hyde Park and at another rental unit that authorities declined to identify, according to Nassau police.
The Nasirs, authorities allege, acted as middlemen, warehousing the items at their business and rented storage units and distributing the merchandise for sale at flea markets and on street corners, authorities said.
If the seized counterfeits were genuine designer items, they would have a $25 million manufacturer’s suggested retail price, authorities said. Authorities also seized $15,175 in cash, police said.
Mahmood Nasir was charged with first- and second-degree counterfeiting, and Ramish and Rubail Nasir each were charged with first-degree counterfeiting and fourth-degree conspiracy, police said. They each pleaded not guilty.
Mahmood Nasir was ordered held on a $250,000 bond or cash bail at his arraignment Wednesday, according to the Nassau district attorney’s office. Bail was set at $50,000 for Ramish Nasir and $25,000 for Rubail Nasir.
The Nasirs came to the United States from Pakistan on work visas sometime after 2010 and had applied for U.S. citizenship, authorities said.
Hempstead defense attorney Guy Allen, who represented the three at their arraignments, declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.
The import and sale of counterfeit items, which typically increase during the holiday season as consumer demand for cheap luxury items rises, is a rampant problem in the United States, resulting in job and tax losses, the funding of criminal activity, and health and safety repercussions for consumers, authorities said.
In fiscal year 2017, Customs and Border Parotection in the New York region seized more than 8,600 shipments of goods that violated intellectual property rights, said Frank Russo, the port director for Customs and Border Protection at JFK.
Mahmood Nasir was arrested for counterfeiting merchandise with a retail price of $15 million in Manhattan in 2012, but the charges were dropped, Russo said. Officials said they could not provide further details on that case.
“Nassau County police and HSI started to look at him again and realized he may be up to the same stuff so they asked us to look at items being shipped from China and Hong Kong going to that business again,” said Russo, who added his agency was also involved in the 2012 investigation.
The goal in such cases, said Christopher Lau, assistant special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations at Kennedy, is to “find the individuals that are selling it, find the money trail and take out the organization responsible for it.”
Authorities said they were investigating whether the sale of the counterfeit items supported a larger crime syndicate or terrorism.
Tips to avoid buying counterfeit merchandise
1. Research before buying so you know what the genuine item looks like.
2. Check for security features, such as reflective stickers, which some manufacturers add to items.
3. Shop at legitimate retailers and check the company’s report with the Better Business Bureau.
4. Beware of super-low prices and avoid online shopping from unknown sellers.
5. Purchase using a credit card so you can dispute the sale if the merchandise was misrepresented.
Source: Consumer Reports