Number 8 of the Scams of Christmas: Counterfeit Cheer

It’s charming, festive, and made of duct tape. Clever, and this one’s honestly labeled.

The unbeatable bargain has been a lure used by con artists since even before 19th-century Europeans recognized the commercial value of a topical preparation used by foreign laborers, an oily substance derived from the Chinese Water Snake.

Fast forward and you can get a brand new iPad for $20! A Louis Vuitton purse for 90% off! If your first thought was, that’s too good to be true, congratulations. Fake or stolen designer goods can take the ho-ho-ho out of the holidays faster than Santa can get his sleigh off the ground.

According to, police arrested Paulo R. Barbosa and Kristy Barbosa, both of Harrison, New Jersey, and Paula Ligotti, of Levittown on Thanksgiving night. The suspects were each charged with four counts of counterfeiting in the second degree. Their holiday operation had a pop-up store in an office building, but also had an online presence. According to WABC's

The website Lavish Creations says it is an online boutique carrying handmade and store-made merchandise specializing in children's products. But police say much of what was being sold was fake, from purses to watches and children's clothing and shoes.

“They came directly from China, and they were put on her shelves to sell to the consumer,” Detective Sergeant Patrick Ryder said.

After importation, Ligotti warehoused the fakes from China in her home. The raid, dubbed “Operation Black Thursday,” netted the police more than a million dollars in counterfeit goods. It also made Turkey Day a real downer for the three suspects.

If you’re one of those people who “never pays retail,” remember that there are plenty of real hot holiday deals to be found. Just be sure to verify the provenance and authenticity of products before you pay for anything.

We’re going to turn our sights on technology and No. 7 on this 12 Scams of Christmas list, “Santa's Spyware.”

Leading image via PyrateWench's Etsy store.

Terry Ambrose writes the McKenna mystery series set in Hawaii. They're filled with snark, scams, and trouble in paradise.