Wharf handbag sellers targeted in counterfeit raid 

At least four storefronts near Fisherman’s Wharf known by neighboring stores for luring customers with cheap, fake Louis Vuitton handbags and other accessories are closed for business after federal agents bagged their inventory.

In the middle of the day Wednesday, neighboring store employees watched U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cars and trucks fill the intersection of Beach and Taylor streets to confiscate scarves, handbags and other fashion accessories.

“You know the types of stores. They sell those knockoff bags,” said Robert Quindag, an assistant manager for Harley Davidson, whose store on Taylor Street is next to one that was raided.

ICE officials are not revealing what type of search warrant agents were executing, but said they did not make any arrests.

Neighboring employees and merchants instantly associated the stores with their fake Louis Vuitton bags.

Best Camera and Electronic owner Alan Said speculated that the agents were going for the stores with the most stuff.

“You should have seen it. There were at least 30 boxes from this small little store,” he said. “Why would they come out here for a few boxes of stuff?”

Said has been selling Canon cameras, among other big-name electronics, for 15 years, and he has seen federal agents sweep the area about once every couple of years.

He said he’s not going to tell someone how to run their business, but he’s annoyed that it jolts his store’s credibility.

“If I sell you a $200 camera, I can assure you it’s real,” he said.

Last year, Louis Vuitton was involved with more than 13,000 counterfeiting proceedings and knew of more than 6,000 raids, according to the company.

ICE officials said it would likely take a couple of weeks to reveal more details about the  investigation.

San Francisco Visitors and Convention Bureau CEO and President Joe D’Alessandro said there’s definitely a market for knockoffs in The City, but “We work with legitimate businesses as much as we can ... and if it’s illegal, it’s illegal.”

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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Monday, Sep 15, 2014

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