A grand jury in South Carolina last week indicted Mark DiPadova and Theresa Gayle Ford, owners of Fakegifts.com, for trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. The site was generally considered the largest of many counterfeit goods Web sites. It sold fake Cartier, TAG Heuer, Montblanc and Rolex goods among many others.
DiPadova and Ford were arrested by federal officers in Lancaster, S.C., Jan. 22 after a year-long investigation prompted by Cartier and Montblanc. The operation concluded with assistance from the U.S. Customs service. Previous attempts to halt the site were either not enforced or were hampered by the site's lack of address. The site, which Cartier is now working to shut down, boasted its ability to operate despite past attempts by luxury goods firms to close it down.
According to U.S. Attorney J. Ren Josey, District of South Carolina, the maximum penalty DiPadova could face for trademark infringement could be $2 million in fines and/or 10 years imprisonment. Ford was released on $100,000 bail; DiPadova remains in custody.
The case may be the first U.S. government action against sites that sell counterfeit goods, according to Cartier. "We remain committed to protecting the reputation of our brand name and merchandise and will continue to pursue others who fraudulently use our brand name. We will spare no efforts in tracking down and putting counterfeits like DiPadova out of business," says Simon Critchell, chairman of Cartier.
- by Michael Thompson