Five Charged in $73M Fake Shoe Scam

"I commend our law enforcement partners for helping to bring today's charges, which send a clear message to would-be counterfeiters: Just don't do it.” Those were the words of U.S. attorney Geoffrey S. Berman after five people were charged with trafficking counterfeit Nike Air Jordan sneakers.

Each member of the crew will face a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. It’s alleged that over the last two years they’re responsible for $73 million in counterfeit shoe sales. The Fake Five were charged after investigators completed an eight-month probe that included the individual inspection of almost 27,000 pairs of sneakers. In total, the investigation speculates that the crew imported nearly 500,000 pairs of knock-offs.

The 42 containers of shoes arrived from China through the Port of Newark with the same design and color of authentic Air Jordans. The iconic Jumpman logo and other trademarks were added at locations throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

The Air Jordan brand tallied over $3 billion in sales last year for Nike. The company has released new versions of the Air Jordan shoe every year since being introduced in 1984. A pair of the shoes in question typically retails for about $190.

Even though he hasn’t played since 2003, Michael Jordan, the namesake and inspiration for the brand, made $100 million from licensing his name and likeness to the shoes last year. That more than three times the amount of the second highest shoe beneficiary - LeBron James.

More