EMAILED ON January 2, 2020 BY Conor Grant

The market for counterfeit kicks is alive and kicking

A recently unsealed federal file revealed that the counterfeit sneaker industry is massive — and one international counterfeiting ring managed to smuggle more than $472m worth of fake Nike and Louis Vuitton footwear into the US.

And this wasn’t an isolated incident

In fact, there have been several big busts in recent months. 

  • Last year, a team of New York–based counterfeiters were caught smuggling 385k pairs of Air Jordans into the US (an estimated $70m loss for Nike).
  • In October, a man in Queens was busted for importing $5m worth of knockoff Ugg and Timberland boots.
  • Also in October, authorities confiscated 14k pairs of counterfeit Air Jordans (worth an estimated $2.2m).

Overall, the industry is huge: Last year, sales of knockoff goods hit $520B — or 3.3% of all trade.

And some of these criminal operations are really complex

According to the report, the counterfeiters behind the recent operation used fake company names, doctored paperwork, burner phones, and fake email addresses to cover their tracks.

Want to know if your sneaks are fake? See if they pass the sniff test: Some counterfeiters use glue that smells like chlorine.