MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - More than $275,000 worth of counterfeit goods has been seized from Myrtle Beach businesses at the conclusion of an investigation by Myrtle Beach Police, the Department of Homeland Security and the SC Secretary of State's Office.
According to the Secretary of State's office, three businesses in the Grand Strand were raided on May 30. Two men - Leon Koretzky, owner of Grasshopper on Ocean Boulevard, and David Ohana, owner of Nothing Over $7.95 on North Kings Highway - charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Beki Boutboul of Best For Less was charged with distribution of counterfeit goods.
"I think we have a lot of businesses that are selling counterfeit goods," said Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall.
The counterfeit items seized, which are valued at a total of $275,270, include hats, clothing, jewelry and stickers which misrepresent that brands of Major League Baseball, Nike, Hello Kitty, Monster, Browning, Fox Racing, National Football League, National Basketball Association, Jake Daniels, Warner Brothers, Polo, Casio and Harley Davidson.
The operation was able to shut down this and previous counterfeit operations thanks to the trademark owners, who made law enforcement aware of the crimes.
"This shows that there continues to be a problem with counterfeit goods being brought into Horry County," said Chief Warren Gall of the Myrtle Beach Police Department. "We will continue to work in partnership with the Secretary of State's Office to protect consumers from individuals who attempt to sell fake and fraudulent goods."
The products of these raids were announced at a press conference on Monday, June 17. Patrick McDavid with the Department of Homeland Security said, "This is an international trafficking problem."
He added that counterfeiting puts legitimate South Carolina businesses out of work, a sentiment echoed by Secretary of State Mark Hammond. Hammond added that the $1 billion business is hurting the local economy and cheating the tourist who spend their hard earned money in the Palmetto State.
"To have someone come along right beside them and sell that counterfeit merchandise without the quality, is stealing," said Secretary Hammond. "It's no different than reaching into their pocket and taking their wallet."
If convicted of distributing counterfeit merchandise, the store owners could be sentenced to pay a fine up to $20,000 or spend up to five years in jail.