Five people were busted Wednesday in a multi-million dollar counterfeit perfume operation, with police saying they peddled the fake goods that were made in China and packaged to look like real deal Chanel, Estee Lauder and Polo, police said.
A sample of one perfume revealed the presence of DEHP, a toxic chemical linked to cancer, and damage to the liver, kidneys and reproductive systems, police said.
The suspects, including Patrick Bodal, 45, of Elmhurst — described as the ringleader who worked with accomplices in China — face charges they trafficked in counterfeit goods. They appeared in Manhattan Federal Court Wednesday and were released on bond. Bodal’s brother, Abul Kashemm, 49, was also arrested.
Authorities said the investigation — a joint probe that also involved the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection — started with an informant’s tip about 18 months ago and revealed a $2.6 million a year operation.
NYPD Inspector John Denesopolis said legitimate perfumes, including Calvin Klein and Lacoste, were analyzed in China “and duplicated using the least expensive materials possible.”
The phony fragrances were sent back to New Jersey via shipping containers or using Fed Ex, then taken to Queens, where they were labeled and packaged “to make them look authentic,” Denesopolis said.
Wholesalers who typically bought the real deal for up to $60 a bottle ponied up just $8 a bottle, then sold it to retailers out of state, including in Texas, Georgia and Washington D.C, authorities said.
One of the suspects, Parvez Shazzed, 42, runs a Chinatown gift shop, where authorities seized allegedly counterfeit perfumes Wednesday morning.
On two occasions, Shazzed sold an NYPD undercover 32 bottles of perfume for $590, according to court papers.
That’s less than $19 a bottle for perfumes that typically run at least three times higher.
One of the Queens properties was seized by authorities, and police said stores that knowingly sell counterfeit goods could be subject to closure under terms of the city’s nuisance abatements laws.
As for the customers, Denesopolis said most likely realize they are buying something counterfeit.
“A lot of people,” he said, “are into the brand names and they have to have that item.”