OPERATORS OF WWW.FAKEGIFTS.COM WEB SITE PLEAD GUILTY TO SELLING COUNTERFEIT LUXURY GOODS OVER THE INTERNET
Mark Edward Dipadova, 35, of California, and Theresa Gayle Ford, 36, of Lancaster, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in federal court in Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday, March 6, 2001, to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit Rolex, Cartier, and Tag Heuer watches, Mont Blanc pens, and Oakley sunglasses, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Each faces a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000. They will be sentenced following the preparation of a presentence report.
During the guilty plea hearing, Assistant United States Attorney Dean A. Eichelberger told Senior United States District Judge Matthew J. Perry, the presiding judge, that since at least October 1999, Dipadova, who also goes by Mark Voiers and Jack Norris, and Ford operated their Internet based business from the Lancaster, South Carolina, area. They operated as www.fakegifts.com as well as under other names. Eichelberger stated that during this operation, they utilized at least two commercial shipping services, shipping over 8,000 packages to domestic and foreign destinations through one service alone, despite having been sued in federal court for their activities. The defendants acknowledged that they wrapped watches destined for foreign countries in aluminum foil and hid them inside "pop-lights" translucent battery powered lights that are approximately six inches in diameter to prevent their detection.
United States Attorney Scott N. Schools stated that according to federal court records, Cartier International and Montblanc, Inc. have obtained a 15 million dollar judgment against "Mark Voiers" one of the names Dipadova admits using, in a lawsuit they filed in California. Additionally, Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc., has obtained a one million dollar judgment in New York. These judgments are in addition to a $250,000 judgment in favor of the Movado Watch Company that Dipadova mentioned during his initial appearance.
United States Attorney Schools further stated, "The new frontier of the internet provides many opportunities for legitimate businesses to find and develop new markets for their products. This case demonstrates that persons bent on defrauding legitimate businesses of their good names cannot hide behind the anonymity provided by the internet. They can and will be brought to justice." Mr. Schools also expressed appreciation for the assistance and cooperation given by industry representatives stating that "this case is a good example of the positive results that can be secured when victims work closely with law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of a case."
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dean A. Eichelberger of the Columbia, South Carolina, office of the United States Attorney. Agents with the United States Customs Service conducted the investigation. Assistance has been provided by the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the United States Department of Justice.
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