Hood said his office is cracking down on the sale of counterfeit material because it defrauds Mississippi consumers, hurts legitimate businesses and in some instances, such as the sale of counterfeit drugs or automobile brake pads, can be dangerous.
Hood said more counterfeit materials are available, especially through Internet purchases.
“The old adage applies that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Hood said.
“Be especially careful about the purchase of drugs.”
In a news conference to discuss the counterfeiting, Hood had colorful shirts in packages labeled Ralph Lauren on display on a conference table. He said about 200 shirts were confiscated in Tupelo.
An investigator from his office discovered the counterfeit shirts at the flea market at the Tupelo Furniture Market. The person who was selling the shirts provided information on how he bought the shirts on the Internet.
Hood’s office then set up a buy on the Internet and had similar shirts delivered to an address in Madison. Hood said Jerry Best Sr., 58, of Louisville, Ky., was charged with two counts of communication fraud in connection with the investigation.
Best is out on $10,000 bail from the Madison County Jail.
The shirts allegedly were bought online for $20 each. In a store in Jackson, a true Ralph Lauren shirt cost $75.
The Legislature passed a bill during the 2009 session that will make it a felony to sell counterfeit products that have a value of more than $1,000. That law takes effect July 1.
Hood said Best is charged with a felony under the state’s wire fraud laws, not under laws dealing with the sale of counterfeit products.
He said his office was especially ramping up the investigation into the alleged sale of counterfeit drugs, adding his office had received complaints about counterfeit Viagra that did not work.
But, he joked, it might be difficult to find a victim willing to testify about counterfeit Viagra.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.