Federal agents seized cases of fake perfume – some of which contained ingredients linked to cancer and organ damage – and made five arrests in a counterfeiting bust Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Homeland Security agents made the bust and hauled the faux fragrances out at a news conference on Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan.
They said Wednesday’s seizures were the latest in a string of such busts in New York City that has netted more than three million counterfeit items over the last three years. In total, the real versions of those fake products could fetch $94 million at stores.
Authorities said that more arrests could be coming in the case, which they say swindles companies out of profits and potentially harm customers.
Investigators say perfumes were replicated by Chinese manufacturers using cheaper materials. They were shipped to New Jersey and then Queens, where they were labeled and packaged to look legitimate.
Authorities say wholesalers bought the fragrances for a fraction of the cost of the real brands and sold them to out-of-state retailers.
Authorities said that counterfeit colognes and perfumes come in packaging that looks authentic, but usually burn on contact and can contain various carcinogens. In at least one prior instance, a fake perfume contained horse urine.
The five suspects were released on bond after appearing in a Manhattan federal court Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.