March 2019
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In April Trace Investigations' founder, Don C. Johnson, will be attending the 36th annual conference of the International Intelligence Network in Charlotte, NC.

Later in the month, Trace Vice President Tina M. Skirvin will be attending the 2019 national conference of the National Defender Investigator Association in San Diego, CA.
"It would be strange if we came to shun the genuine simply because it resembled the counterfeit."

Dallas Willard,

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you with this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available. In this edition, we offer a case study in a counterfeit product investigation and explore the danger in buying fake goods.
The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact finding is an essential component. We will share what we have learned in our 30+ years as professional investigators and intelligence analysts.

We want to write about topics that will assist you in succeeding in your business endeavors. Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
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The Trace Team

A few years ago, Trace Investigations received a call from the legal counsel of a major designer label. Brandy was special counsel to the firm's brand protection department and she had received a tip that a small retail shop in a strip mall not far from our office was selling women's purses which were knock-offs of their designer handbag. We were dispatched to investigate, and if we confirmed the presence of the counterfeit handbag, asked to make a purchase and identify the business owner. The shop, known as "Bee the Bag Lady," had for sale when we arrived eight handbags with our client's logo and other trademark markings. In addition to the handbags we saw several sunglasses in a case which had our client's name imprinted on the frames. These were most likely knock-offs as well, since our client distributed their label only in major national retail stores. Our investigator purchased a hand-bag and a pair of sunglasses, and, after engaging the store clerk in a friendly conversation, learned that she was "Bee," or Beatrice, the owner of the shop. Subsequent investigation identified Bee and her husband as owners of two other "Bee the Bag Lady" shops in college towns in Indiana, all situated in outlet lots and strip malls in shopping districts.

By overnight express mail, we forwarded the evidence and our investigative report to Brandy. The next day, after confirming that ...  Read More

Each year the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes counterfeit merchandise from all over the world, designed for distribution to alternate retail markets around the country, including flea markets, small "mom and pop" retail shops and e-commerce outlets. Major manufacturers such as Coach, Nike, Bose headphones and Rayban sunglasses are routinely copied and offered to unsuspecting consumers looking for a savings. To the untrained eye, the copies are often difficult to detect but are always of inferior quality and craftsmanship. And almost always, the sale of counterfeit goods supports a criminal enterprise, such as drug traffickers and terrorist groups. Often times, the consumer who purchases the item is unaware that they are part of a "financial trail" of death and destruction, and are insuring that a legitimate business and manufacturer is losing money.

Counterfeit products have flooded retail marketplaces. A few years ago, Trace Investigations identified a vendor selling knock-off designer handbags at an event sponsored by a local Chamber of Commerce. In most instances, the real products are not offered for sale in non-traditional venues, but in major national stores and in the designers' own retail shops. There are numerous web sites which... Read More