Counterfeit goods freely traded from markets to online stores

In Vietnam lately, it is quite easy to find fake goods of renowned international brand names like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Dior, Versace. Despite the effort of functional agencies to deliver strict sanctions to law violators, it seems those illegal goods are still freely sold offline and online without much successful control.

A law-violation store in Saigon Square is documented. (Photo: SGGP)

H., a fashion shop owner in An Dong Market (located in District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City), enthusiastically marketed various attractive fake Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton handbags with the prices ranging from VND500,000-1,000,000 (US$20-40) an item, although the charge for the real version is no less than $10,000 per item. This owner affirmed that other similar merchandise (hats, clothes, handbags) is always available for sale. Most of them are from Guangzhou in China.

In Binh Tay Market (sited in District 6 of HCMC), the situation of customers and salespeople eagerly bargaining the prices for counterfeit goods is also popular. A shop owner here admitted that many handbags and belts displayed for sale online in HCMC and its neighboring provinces come from this market. Wholesale transactions can enjoy a discount of 15-20 percent per order.

The situation is quite the same when visiting the famous Ben Thanh Market in District 1 of HCMC. A large number of international tourists regularly shop in this market. In various booths, it is not hard to buy a fake product of a famous fashion brand name. However, the prices have been multiplied by 3-4 times compared to the wholesale one in Binh Tay Market.

N.A., a freelance tour guide, informed that many international tourists buy fake goods here to use when they travel inside Vietnam since the law in the country does not fine anyone purchasing or using such merchandise. They will throw away these items at airports before coming back home as their countries impose stricter laws as to counterfeit goods.

Coming to N.Z Department Store in District 1 of HCMC, the first floor is the place for outlets of famous fashion brand names. Nevertheless, right on the third floor, shoppers can find similar items with much lower prices of around VND800,000-1,300,000 ($32-52). It turns out that those goods are counterfeit ones, many of which are skillfully made in Vietnam or other countries to duplicate the real version. They are all attached with specific brand identity for each brand name.

Handbags, wallets faking famous brand names of Gucci, LV, Adidas, The North Face, Louis Vuitton are publicly sold inside Ben Thanh Market in November 2022. (Photo: SGGP)

Surfing the Internet is another convenient way to find fake fashion goods with the price of less than a million VND. On popular social networks such as Facebook or Zalo, virtual shop owners freely advertise such fake low-quality merchandise. Shopaholics in the country do not care much about legal issues but choose what they are pleased with, of course with as low a price as possible.

For instance, Facebook account D.H.T. with more than 1,000 followers posts several advertisements on the shop’s ‘high-quality menswear’, attached with labels of Louis Vuitton, Chanel. D.H.T affirmed that the origin of these goods is from Hong Kong, and most are carefully made so they are nearly the same as the real version.

Well-known e-commerce platforms are also an ideal place in Vietnam to market and sell counterfeit goods without monitoring. This is because the authorities currently do not have specific regulations and sanctions on approving sales posts. Neither is there any detailed law on inspecting and fining illegal businesspeople on social networks.

Nguyen Van Hau, Vice Chairman of the HCMC Bar Association, cited that the law in the US stipulates that any individuals and organizations duplicating, distributing, selling, purchasing counterfeit goods are severely fined with up to $5 million and $15 million, respectively. They may be even jailed for up to 10 years (first offense) or 20 years (re-offense). In France, buyers of such goods pay a fine of 3 times of the official retailed price of those items. People storing fake goods are fined with up to €300,000 or jailed for 3 years.

The HCMC Market Management Department has just announced that it cooperated with functional agencies to discover many cases of counterfeit fashion goods trading like Nhat Si Store on Pham Van Dong Street (Thu Duc City), which stores nearly 2,000 products faking Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior brand names without proof or origin or purchase. Shops sited in Saigon Square Department Store (District 1) were also detected with fake goods of luxurious brand names.

Since the beginning of this year, the General Department of Vietnam Customs has exposed nearly 14,000 law violation cases, including fake goods ones. They have seized the merchandise with a total value of nearly VND5 trillion ($201.5 million). 35 cases have been prosecuted, while 113 cases have been transferred to other agencies with a prosecution proposal.

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