Korea’s First Design Crime Arrest: Fashion Influencer Caught in Counterfeit Product Scandal

Korea’s Intellectual Property Office Exposes Infamous Influencer’s Counterfeit Scheme

A corporate organization led by a prominent fashion influencer has been apprehended by the Korean Intellectual Property Office for engaging in the manufacturing and sale of counterfeit products. These fake items were meticulously designed to imitate the latest innovations from renowned domestic and foreign brands, with the perpetrators attempting to pass them off as their original creations. Shockingly, close to 20,000 counterfeit products amounting to a staggering market value of 34.4 billion Korean won were sold through this unlawful scheme.

Fashion Influencer and Corporation Implicated

On the 14th, the Korea Intellectual Property Office’s Technology and Design Special Judicial Police (Technical Police) collaborated with the Daejeon District Prosecutor’s Office, resulting in the arrest of a fashion influencer and the subsequent exposure of a corporation involved in the production and distribution of counterfeit clothing, footwear, and precious metals. The alleged imitations targeted 58 reputable domestic and foreign brands, including Chanel, Time, and Ink. The influencer, identified as A (34, female), along with seven executives and employees of the corporation, are now in custody.

Investigations unveiled that A initially operated as a fashion influencer on a popular internet portal blog, amassing a staggering 14 million visitors. Exploiting this influence, A shamelessly promoted products to attract buyers and later resorted to selling fake versions through a membership system. In December 2021, A went as far as establishing a corporation to facilitate the sale and distribution of counterfeit products, going to great lengths to maintain a veil of authenticity. Their modus operandi involved procuring new products only to return them, utilizing their labels to market the fake items and minimize suspicion. Furthermore, their network surpassed national boundaries, as the organization distributed these counterfeits to foreign companies as well.

The probe into A’s activities and their accomplices exposed that the counterfeit products had been manufactured and circulated for roughly three years, commencing from November 2020. Shockingly, the accumulated worth of these counterfeit goods surpassed 34.4 billion Korean won, with criminal profits amounting to a staggering 2.43 billion Korean won. A, who amassed immense wealth through this illicit operation, brazenly flaunted their luxury lifestyle on social media platforms, including the possession of several exorbitant supercars.

Decisive Actions and Emphasis on Crime Proceeds

The diligent efforts of the technical police resulted in the apprehension of A, accompanied by the freezing of their financial accounts, the seizure of their real estate assets and bonds, and the collection of all criminal proceeds. Notably, this is the first instance in Korea where unlawful gains have been successfully seized and a suspect has been arrested under the Design Protection Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.

Statistics from the Korean Intellectual Property Office reveal that, out of the 50 similar cases reported over the past decade (2012-2022), the majority received lenient penalties, primarily monetary fines (39 cases) and probationary sentences (11 cases). Consequently, to deter repeat offenses, emphasis has been placed on the strict collection of criminal proceeds.

Kim Si-hyung, director of the Office of Industrial Property Protection and Cooperation at the Korea Intellectual Property Office, emphasized the commitment to combat increasingly sophisticated intellectual property crimes. The focus lies on thoroughly tracing the proceeds of criminal activities, thus eradicating the underlying motivation for such offenses.

Raising Awareness and Safeguarding Originality

As Korea’s first design crime arrest grips the nation’s attention, it serves as a stark warning against product imitation and urges consumers and businesses alike to be vigilant. Protecting intellectual property rights and preserving the originality of products are essential to maintain the integrity of the creative industry.

Reporter: Park Saejong Seung-gi

Korea’s first design crime arrest, product imitation warning
Copy the design by returning it after purchasing a new product
Show off your lavish lifestyle on social media… Collect and keep the proceeds of crime

▲ Imitation product (left) and genuine product (right) sold by famous influencer A. A corporate organization led by a famous influencer was caught in the Korean Intellectual Property Office manufacturing and selling fake products that copied new product designs from domestic and foreign brands famous, disguising them as their own products. About 20,000 fake products were sold using this method, with a market value of 34.4 billion gained.

On the 14th, the Korea Intellectual Property Office’s Technology and Design Special Judicial Police (Technical Police) and the Daejeon District Prosecutor’s Office arrested A, a fashion influencer and corporate representative, on charges of manufacturing and distributing imitations of clothing, shoes and precious metals from 58 brands famous domestic and foreign brands, including Chanel, Time and Ink It was announced that Mr. (34, female) was arrested and the corporation and 7 executives and employees were arrested.

Mr A was revealed to be working as a fashion influencer on an internet portal blog with a cumulative number of visitors of 14 million, promoting products, attracting buyers, and then selling fake products through a membership system. Furthermore, in December 2021, they set up a corporation to sell and distribute fake products and then commercialize it by hiring workers. They manufactured fake products by buying new products and then returning them, and their crimes were carried out very carefully, including selling the fake products with their own labels to avoid conflict. The manufacture of counterfeit products was organized and distributed not only to domestic and wholesale clothing, footwear and jewelry manufacturing companies, but also to foreign companies ▲ Counterfeit product criminal organization led by a famous influencer A. patent office

The counterfeit products manufactured and distributed by Mr A and others for about 3 years from November 2020 were found to be worth 34.4 billion won in actual value, and they earned 2.43 billion in criminal profits. Mr A, who made huge profits from crime, explained that he lives in a luxury villa in Gangnam, Seoul and showed off his lavish lifestyle on social media, including owning several expensive supercars.

The technical police detained Mr A, froze his financial accounts, seized real estate and bonds, and collected and retained all proceeds of crime. This is the first time in Korea that criminal proceeds have been collected and a suspect arrested for violating the Design Protection Act and the Unfair Competition Prevention Act.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, out of the 50 cases found in the last 10 years (2012-2022), most of them were fines (39 cases) and probation (11 cases), so the punishment was low, so the collection of criminal proceeds is strengthened to prevent recidivism.

Kim Si-hyung, director of the Office of Industrial Property Protection and Cooperation at the Korea Intellectual Property Office, said, “We plan to respond vigorously to intellectual property crimes that are becoming more sophisticated, and fundamentally track the proceeds of crimes to the end. stop the motive for crime.”

Reporter Park Saejong Seung-gi

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