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Police have discovered a raft of counterfeit jewellery at Hurstville Westfield
Police have discovered a raft of counterfeit jewellery at Hurstville Westfield

Police raid Westfield retailer for counterfeit jewellery

Police seized hundreds of counterfeit jewellery and fashion accessories in a raid on a Sydney shopping centre last week.
Police allegedly discovered 172 counterfeit items on display, with more than 1,000 other counterfeit products in storage. The falsely branded goods, which included rings, earrings, watches, money clips and more, were being promoted as authentic but sold cheaply. The Hurstville store’s inventory was estimated to be worth around $300,000 if given the pricing of the products they were imitating.

Police expect to charge a 34-year-old female store-owner with several offences, including selling fake trademarked goods.

Senior Constable Jason Gowers told Jeweller that the seized jewellery counterfeited big brands and retailed for very low prices.

“The store was selling imitation Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Tiffany & Co and other big jewellery brands,” he said. “Earrings were generally selling for $20 to $30, belt buckles and money clips for around $60 and watches for around $100.”

Gowers said he didn’t believe many customers were fooled into believing the products were manufactured by the brands they purported to be.

“If these were genuine, even the cheapest stuff would be around $400, so if you can pick it up for $20 or $30, common sense says something’s not right,” he said. “But we know people take these things to Tiffany stores to get cleaned or complain about the quality and Tiffany say ‘where’d you get this?’ These things are boxed with logos as well, so some people will be fooled.”

Gowers explained that while widespread, stopping counterfeit jewellery wasn’t a priority for State Police, it was a Commonwealth offence likely handled more frequently by Federal Police. He also said that large brands that were being counterfeited had their own teams working to inform Police of illegal traders.

“Big companies spend a lot of money to monitor this issue, we were tipped off by a trademark investigations representative who works on behalf of the big names,” Gowers explained. “He goes around looking for fraudulent items, he buys them and then they test them to make sure they are fake, then they notify us. We then get involved with arrest warrants and conducting raids.”

One source at the shopping centre, who did not wish to speak on the record, said initial reporting of the incident had been misleading, saying the alleged offences occurred at a kiosk in the shopping centre and not a permanent store, however this could not be verified at the time of publication.

Sharen Needham, manager of Prouds The Jewellers in the same shopping centre, heard about the raid on the radio while driving to work. She said counterfeit jewellery wasn’t a major problem for her business and customers that were getting fooled needed to be more discerning.

“The only time I’ve had someone come to me with counterfeit jewellery was a man who brought in a heavy, silver-filled, gold chain that he thought was full gold,” she said. “You get what you pay for, so it’s always a case of buyer beware.”

Needham said her store sold watches primarily around the $200 price range, similar to the store that was raided, but believed shoppers would usually choose her store instead of discount shops based on reputation and an expectation of product care.

“They know we won’t be dodgy because we’re well known.” she said. “When customers come in to us they know they’re going to get the warranty, they can bring it back if there are problems.”

The raid comes just one week after the Australian government announced it had passed amendments to intellectual property laws to place heavier punishments on product counterfeiters and sellers.

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