Federal homeland security investigators raid counterfeit clothing vendor

Police raided a local business wheeling out boxes of merchandise they say were all fake. FOX 29 was the only station there when police and homeland security investigators moved in.

Box, after box, after box all loaded into a big truck parked on North Fifth street Friday as city and federal homeland security investigators raided one of Philadelphia's biggest counterfeit clothing vendors.

Only FOX 29 was there as police executed search warrants at "Off the Corner" in the 5500 block of North Fifth. The owner, Hassan Darwich, was charged with selling $300,000 in fake Polo, North Face and True Religion clothing.

"These companies, who are being counterfeited, they take that loss and mark up their prices and it trickles down to consumers who are actually buying the legitimate items in stores," Major Crime Units Lt.Jon Josey said.

Wayne Huffman shops along the busy Fifth Street corridor. He says he wants the real deal not a knock off.

"I stay away from that stuff. I would prefer to get the real stuff," he said.

Investigators say one store was loaded with fake merchandise. The entire backroom and a second floor apartment contained counterfeit clothing. They believe Darwich also supplied a lot of street corner vendors.

Experts say operations like this hurt the economy and retailers. The consumer gets hit right in the wallet.

Investigators say a lot of the material is manufactured in China, imported here and re-labeled or embroidered. The owner was charged with counterfeiting and trademark infringement. Investigators also say money from counterfeit operations can be used to bankroll other criminal activity, including terrorism.