Is Saving On a Fake Bag Worth a $1,000 Fine?

The most effective punishments are often ones that fit the crime. When Hammurabi proclaimed "an eye for an eye," things certainly got less violent around Mesopotamia. So what's the best way to make deal-seeking shoppers stop buying knock-offs? Make them pay $1,000 for the privilege.

This hefty four-digit penalty, along with possible jail time, has been proposed by NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who started lobbying against the purchase of inauthentic goods in 2011. Should the legislation go through, customers found with fakes from the five boroughs will be changed with a class A misdemeanor. This would mean, for the first time in New York, sellers will not be the only ones held responsible for counterfeit—simply paying for a Rolox or Prado qualifies as accessory to crime.

Chin isn't the only person who feels strongly about this cause, she also has the support of several fellow New Yorkers, particularly those in the fashion industry. “As long as some consumers consider fakes fashionable, counterfeiters will make them available," Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University School of Law, told WWD in agreement. "The proposed law, could change the calculus for some would-be customers. A $25 designer handbag can sound like a steal, but add in a $1,000 fine and the bargain becomes a bust." And she has a point—if someone has enough money to risk on getting caught with a Canal Street fake, why not just spend it on the real thing?

Do you support Chin's bill or do you think the penalty's too harsh?


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