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Tag: dr. jeremy wilson

Parker: Counterfeiting in the 21st Century and the Response by Michigan State University

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.
By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Counterfeiting brings to the public mind a rare fake $20 bill, knockoff handbags (spelled “Gucchi”), and a bootleg Tom Cruise DVD. The typical consumer attitude about product counterfeiting ranges from tolerance to apathy, nothing threatening or particularly sinister.

But the reality today is more sobering. Not only does counterfeiting and product fraud mean global big bucks, but it directly affects all of our everyday lives in areas we do care about—food safety, organized crime, pharmaceutical drug fraud, whole industries at risk, and health and safety in the Third World.

Dr. Jeremy Wilson, the Director of Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Program (hereafter A-CAPPP) at Michigan State University, estimates the annual global trade in counterfeit goods to exceed $600 billion, about 5-7% of world trade. The FBI figure is roughly the same. Not only does the practice wreak havoc on the economies of industries and governments, it threatens the health and safety of individuals worldwide.

Take food, for example. A-CAPPP estimates that inferior products make their way to almost every American’s dinner plate. Examples are endless, from watered down milk, vodka laced with methanol, diluted olive oil, tomato sauce, candy bars, virtually every kind of food we eat.

The counterfeit product list goes on to other categories involving public safety. Shoddy auto parts, weakened medicine and pharmaceuticals, unsafe propane tanks, even a fake nuclear reactor component (in Michigan no less). Over half of the drugs used in Third World countries are counterfeit. Dr. Wilson estimates that counterfeit goods are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries around the world every year.

I would guess that despite the salutary efforts of several federal law enforcement agencies (FBI, FDA, DHS, ICE to name a few), out of the law enforcement dollar less than a penny is spent on counterfeiting and product safety investigations and prosecutions. In a world that wakes up each day to a new mass murder or terrorist plot, product safety rarely grabs a headline. And stretched-thin federal law enforcement budgets are focused on other crimes which the public considers more important.

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