Local police officers who helped bust one of Canada’s largest counterfeit rings netted more than just fake Gucci bags and Burberry wallets — they received an award for their efforts.
Toronto’s 55 Division, which polices much of the east end, including the Beach and Riverdale, seized over $900,000 worth of high-end counterfeit goods after an investigation that extended to Leslieville, Oakville and Burlington.
In early December, the group of detectives received the award at the 5th Annual Fraud & Anti-counterfeiting Conference. It is the first time a Canadian law enforcement agency has won this prestigious award.
The conference, which took place at Markham’s Holiday Inn and Suites on Woodbine Avenue, is designed to promote law enforcement and government representatives, lawyers and investigators for their achievements.
Inspector Mary Lee Metcalfe received the award on behalf of Robert Whalen, Kevin Hooper, Adrianne Johnstone, Patrick Yeung, Lesley Zimmer, Fraser Douglas, Luis Florez, Jonathan Youroukos, Benny Seto, Michael Taylor, Michael Williams, Bryan Smith, Jonathan Little and Jeffrey Tout, who were all recognized for their work on the investigation, dubbed Project Outback.
Some of the merchandise seized during the three-month investigation included counterfeit Gucci, Ugg, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Coach, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Pandora and Guess brands, police say.
They also seized 1,523 pieces of jewellery, 340 pairs of boots, 69 pairs of sunglasses, 45 belts and wallets, 137 key chains, 448 scarves along with watches, perfumes, track suits and $20,000 in cash.
Police wouldn’t disclose much information on the investigation, but said some items were seized in Leslieville. Currently, three adults face a number of fraud-related charges, police say.
Police and fraud officials say it’s important to bring attention to the dangers of purchasing counterfeit products, which are often being illegally imported from countries with no health standards and labour laws.
Consumers of such products are putting themselves at risk, given that the defective goods sometimes contain harmful amounts of chemicals. Consumers need to be aware of where the product they are buying is made and under what conditions.
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