Seven Queens residents charged with selling fake designer goods worth $2.2 million

Photo courtesy Queens District Attorney’s office

Buying fake designer bags may be a cheaper option this holiday season, but selling fake Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel handbags proved costly for seven Queens residents.

The seven were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges of second-degree trademark counterfeiting for selling fake designer handbags, gloves, wallets, watches and other goods worth more than $2.2 million, according to District Attorney Richard Brown,

The defendants have been identified as Naqing Zhang, 31, and his wife, Wei Wei Dong, 32, of Whitestone; Chin C. Chu, 43, and his wife, Jian Y. Xia, 38, of Flushing; Sai E. Chen, 39, also of Flushing; Wei A. Liao, 41, of  Jamaica; and Pizhong Zhou, 22, of Douglaston.

The arrests were the result of an investigation — dubbed “Operation Treasure Hunt” — that began this summer. It was a joint investigation, conducted by the New York Police Department’s Organized Crime Investigations Bureau, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau. The defendants were caught after each of them sold multiple fake designer goods — Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags; boots and jackets bearing logos of The North Face, UGG and Michael Kors; and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones — to undercover operatives between August and December 2014.

“Trademark counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” said Brown, adding that these operations fuel an underground economy. “They are cash businesses that pay no taxes, damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace.”

The defendants, who each face up to four years in prison if convicted, were released on their own recognizance and are scheduled to return to court on Jan. 27.