First, it was a tangle with Chanel, Inc. in 2009. Now, Jeannine Buford of St. Louis has pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit handbags "made" by Hermés.
Buford purchased the bags from a Chinese manufacturer and then used an internet-based business to sell the bags as the real thing.
A 2011 undercover operation by the FBI had one of their agents "buy" one of the handbags from Buford. However, the whole case came to light, the St. Louis' division of the FBI says, after someone filed a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“While I am not smart enough to understand why someone pays $15,000 for a handbag, I definitely understand that women’s purses, like shoes, are not something to be trifled with,” United States Attorney Richard Callahan said in a press release.
The scheme was profitable, too. A press release from the US Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Missouri says:
- "Investigators have estimated that Buford netted over a half of million dollars in sales just from March of 2010 through April of 2011."
Here's the list of internet sites through which Buford is said to have sold her counterfeit goods:
The release states that over 100 people worldwide were defrauded and that Buford could face up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $2 million.
Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud