J. Pete Theodocion, Attorney at Law
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Trade fraud growing in the United States

An interesting type of white collar crime recognized by the government is trade fraud. This kind of fraud is an up-and-coming scheme, particularly with an increase in imports into the United States.

What exactly is trade fraud, though? How does it truly affect the American consumer? According to a July 13 article, the problem is that the goods coming into the country aren't legitimate. They may be knock-off goods or of poor quality. This is passed onto the public, violating the False Claims Act.

Why would people bring fake items or misleading products into the United States?

The primary reason is because of being able to avoid taxation. For instance, an example given was one importer who was selling "flounder" but actually had mislabeled catfish that had been laced with antibiotics prohibited in the United States. That's not safe for anyone.

Fraudulent imports do more than just harm consumers, they cost jobs, too. For example, if fraudulent goods cost less but pass as more expensive items, local shops might cut back on staff to make up for their losses. Undercutting competitors with false goods is just one tactic some use in trade fraud.

Not everyone accused of trade fraud is aware of fraud or even intentionally committing it. Some people may not realize they're purchasing knock-off goods or that the seller is providing products with a real risk to consumers. Those individuals could still face prosecution, but it's important for them to defend themselves. In some cases, those accused of fraud are also the ones who have been taken advantage of.

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