‘Purse lady’ arrested, accused of selling counterfeit products
By Brian Stanley email@example.com July 26, 2011 9:16PM
Updated: November 2, 2011 4:41AM
JOLIET — A $200 pair of boots for $50? Too good a deal to be true.
It was, police said.
Diana Quintana, 37, allegedly sold boots, sunglasses and purses with designer labels that turned out to be cheap knockoffs. By attaching counterfeit metal emblems to a handbag that cost her $5 and boots that cost $18, she reportedly netted thousands of dollars passing off counterfeit merchandise as the real thing.
Quintana turned herself in July 18 on charges of money laundering and unauthorized use of a seal of trademark — the result of a two-month investigation where police seized more than $260,000 worth of designer knockoffs.
The investigation included a search of a storage facility that contained 70 pairs of Ugg boots, 202 Coach sandals, 50 Dolce & Gabbana purses, 38 Louis Vuitton bags, 25 Michael Kors purses, 17 Prada purses, 10 Ed Hardy purses, seven Juicy Couture purses, six Burberry purses and three Kate Spade purses.
Investigators determined all of the items were fakes.
‘It’s a huge business’
The case began when Ugg boots contacted an Elmhurst private investigation firm about bogus goods being sold in the area as the genuine article, Detective Tim Powers said.
“Manufacturers regularly hire private investigators to look into (label infringement). It’s a huge business,” Powers said.
An investigator notified Powers about the tip and they found purses and boots with fake labels being sold by a local merchant who identified Quintana as the supplier.
“She’s known around town as ‘the purse lady,’” Powers said.
Quintana reportedly sold purses on consignment at shops and went door to door to businesses selling to workers on break. She also sponsored residential “purse parties,” where fakes were sold like Tupperware. Police said Quintana made her sales all around the area.
Records show Quintana has run a business called “Diana and Lisa’s Handbags” locally for a few years.
In May, an undercover officer and undercover private investigator reportedly called Quintana to do some “shopping” from her and ended up coming back with more than they set out for.
They went to Quintana’s house at 3051 Creekside Drive and her mother’s at 3033 Creekside Drive, where Quintana stored more purses and jackets. The investigators also made buys at a storage facility near Route 59 and Theodore Street that Quintana has rented.
Police said the mother faces no charges as she was not implicated in the sale of the counterfeit goods.
The buys led to warrants allowing police to search the residences and storage facility June 9.
The home at 3033 Creekside held jewelry labeled from Coach, Chanel, Gucci and nearly 400 phony items from Tiffany & Co., police said. About 200 pairs of “designer” sunglasses were also seized.
Police impounded Quintana’s 2004 Ford Freestar and reportedly found counterfeit North Face jackets and 65 purses in her house.
An enormous seizure of items
Evidence reports show Quintana had tools to add emblems and had boxes containing 1,682 Dolce & Gabbana labels, 1,988 Coach labels, 1,652 Prada labels, 1,065 Chanel labels, 1,219 Kate Spade labels and many others, including Bebe, Michael Kors, Chimmy Choo, Burberry, D&B, Versace, Tory Burch, Chloe, Ed Hardy and Gucci.
“This is the largest seizure of counterfeit items we’ve had,” Deputy Chief Mike Trafton said.
The bogus goods were boxed up and transported to the police evidence vault, where they take up about a half-aisle of floor-to-ceiling shelving.
Information from Joliet’s investigation was also shared with Chicago police, who raided two storefronts in Wrigleyville last month.
Police arrested Li Li Wang, 32, at J and K Trading, 4653 N. Clark St., and Jin R. Wang, 30, at Yuni, Inc., 4645 N. Clark St., on charges of selling counterfeit merchandise.
Reports said officers in the 23rd District found 8,318 Tiffany & Co. knockoffs and 823 phony Coach items, 470 fraudulent Gucci bags, 63 Louis Vuitton fakes, 1,712 pieces labeled Chanel, 72 bogus Oakley sunglasses and more than 800 other counterfeits.
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