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Systematic Analysis of Product Counterfeiting Schemes, Offenders, and Victims in the United States

NCJ Number
Brandon A. Sullivan
Date Published
April 2019
12 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of the findings and methodology of a project that developed the Product Counterfeiting Database (PCD) as a source of data on product counterfeiting schemes, offenders, and victims.
Using open-source information, the PCD was built upon established tenets of problem-oriented policing, routine activities theory, and situational crime prevention. The PCD serves as a foundation for developing evidence-based lessons on preventing, detecting, investigating, and responding to product counterfeiting. The PCD assesses multiple units of analysis associated with each product-counterfeiting crime linked to the pharmaceutical, electronic, and food industries. For each counterfeiting crime, the PCD provides data on the scheme, individual offender, business offender, consumer victim, and trademark-owner victim. The PCD was developed in three related stages that are described: 1) identifying cases, 2) searching cases, and 3) coding cases. The PCD's development and this preliminary assessment provide the foundation for additional research. There are several limitations to the PCD, however, due to information being limited to what is freely and publicly available; consequently, there is an inherent "dark figure" of product counterfeiting crimes that cannot be captured and analyzed. This means that highly publicized cases are more likely to be represented in the PCD, as are federal cases. Most state cases could be found only by reviewing the court and correctional records of individual offenders. This requires data-collection strategies and efforts outside the scope of the current study. Thus, this project provides a major contribution by taking a critical first step toward the development of an empirical foundation and evidence-driven baseline of product counterfeiting schemes, offenders, and victims in the United States.