Hollister huckster chucked from UCC

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

An Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister vendor was booted off campus last Thursday for the sale of counterfeit merchandise.

Mario Iafrate, a private investigator for Hallmark Investigations who was hired by the companies, presented the vendor with a cease and desist letter.

Although no charges were laid, the vendor removed his products from the University Community Centre and vacated the premises.

David Simmonds, VP-university affairs for the University Students’ Council, said this was not the first time the merchant had visited Western.

“He had a good record with us,” Simmonds stated.

Iafrate said all the garments he saw on display were counterfeit.

He explained Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister label every style, colour and size with different serial and bar code numbers, but each piece of clothing in the UCC had the same numbers.

Loren Lipkus, a partner at Kestenberg, Siegal, Lipkus LLP, represents Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister.

He said Western has a history of problems with bootleggers.

“We’ve had reports on several occasions over the past few years regarding counterfeit products being sold at the University of Western Ontario,” Lipkus said.

Iafrate agreed, “We loaded up a truck [at Western] last year.”

Western is not alone. Lipkus has seen sales of counterfeit goods at universities across Canada.

He said, “[Consumers] haven’t been educated and informed about the impact of the counterfeiting problem,” adding the lax counterfeit laws in Canada and the lack of resources for police enforcement are also to blame.

Lipkus was surprised students, “who are pretty good at sniffing out problem situations like this,” would support such an enterprise.

He said consumers on a whole need to be more aware.

“They have to be more sensitive to the fact that they’re funding illegal activity.”

According to Lipkus, organized crime is a main player in counterfeit goods, which are often the product of slave and child labour in Asia.

As for Western’s case, the USC is waiting to see what comes of the allegations.

Simmonds said there is a possibility the vendor could return to campus.

“If he makes a request, we’ll review his application as we do with every application.”

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