It was thus interesting to see a media release from the Minister for Home Affairs boasting that Customs & Border Protection officers in Fremantle "stopped more than 10,000 counterfeit Tiffany and Company items from reaching the local market and being sold to unsuspecting consumers." Alas, no pictures of the very cute Customs dogs sniffing at the suspect containers and being rewarded with a treat for their excellent work.
The Minister commented that -
It is vital that we stop these goods at the border as they threaten the profitability and reputation of legitimate businesses and are potentially a risk to consumer safety.Ministerial experience of the Holly Golightlys aside, the mechanics of the bust are more engaging.
Tiffany & Company is a prestigious company and Customs & Border Protection's work in stopping these counterfeit goods ensures there is no negative impact on the famous Tiffany brand.
It appears that the goods were originally referred to Customs and Border Protection on 3 August by the air freight forwarder who thought the consignment, made up of eight boxes, was "suspiciously labelled". The nature of that labelling or the origin of the boxes (China, Vietnam, south of the border down Mexico way?) has not been revealed.
A second shipment of one box was stopped and examined by Customs and Border Protection Compliance Assurance officers on 5 August 2009.
Both consignments were confirmed by Compliance Assurance officers as containing thousands of counterfeit Tiffany products along with associated packaging and care instructions. ("The attention to detail in the packaging makes it especially difficult for consumers to spot a fake.") The goods were formally seized and Tiffany was notified.
Some "10,778 counterfeit items (jewellery and packaging)" were seized, including 476 necklaces, 597 bracelets and 177 rings.
Subsequent investigation by Compliance Assurance officers has identified the supplier of the goods and a website used by the importers to "sell them on a commercial basis".