We've talked about counterfeiting in the past, with government agencies taking down fake product sites worldwide. Trying to pass off fake merchandise as real is also common when it comes to well-known brands of headphones, like Monster Products and Sennheiser. This week, the UK took down a heavy-hitter in what the country is calling the largest-ever seizure of fake Monster products, among other brands. Michael Reeder has been convicted and sentenced to 30 months in prison on 13 different counts of selling the knock-off products.
Reeder's house and workplace were stormed by federal agents in February of 2011, where the task force found over 2,000 counterfeit products from big-name brands like Monster, Sennheiser, Apple, Sony and Nintendo. The con artist was already under watchful eye by the courts after a 2009 case for not giving customers refunds and shipping product in an excessively untimely manner. Since the initial case, hundreds of customers have complained to Monster directly about receiving headphones from Reeder's company, Odds and Pods, saying that the headphones had bad sound quality, buzzing and came in very strange packaging.
Fast-forwarding to September of 2011, government officials found another 1,500 fake Monster, Sennheiser and Sony headphones, along with Sony PS3 controllers and Wii accessories in the handful of raids they performed that month. The raids even caught the attention of David Tognotti, Monster's General Manager and Vice President of Operations, when he said,
Everyone at Monster is gratified that this long and complex investigation has finally reached such a favourable conclusion. The sale of counterfeit products literally hurts everyone, including manufacturers and retailers, but most especially honest consumers who might have no idea that the goods they purchase are not genuine.
At the sentence hearing this week, the actual size of Reeder's operations were exposed. A report submitted by Sennheiser showed that the seizure of all of their products came to a total of 4,000 different headphones, worth over $250,000 if they were legitimate. The court added that they estimate this was just one percent of all of the illegal activity and inventory Reeder was trafficking, as officials found a handful of sites selling the counterfeit headphones and gaming items.
Sennheiser's President of Corporate Services, Volker Bartels, said the company received an extremely high amount of reports of fake product from Reeder's companies.
At one point we estimated that almost 80% of all the complaints we received were due to the fake products he was selling illegally under our brand name... This is why Sennheiser launched a global anti-counterfeit campaign last year. We will not accept fake product in the market place as we want to protect our customers from fraud.
So after the 2,000 pages of evidence the Portsmouth UK City Council collected on Reeder and all of his fake product, is 30 months in jail enough of a punishment for what seems to be a multi-million dollar scam? The UK court also ordered refunds to all affected customers, although a final number and judgment has not been determined as of yet. I'd be curious to see the exact figure in damages they reach once they sort through all of the transactions.