Counterfeit Goods

Fake Vuitton purse costs tourist in Italy €1,000 – in fine

A tourist in Italy who thought she was on to a bargain when she bought a fake Louis Vuitton purse from a beach vendor for €7 (£5.70) has been slapped with a €1,000 fine as part of a draconian summer crackdown on counterfeit goods.

As she haggled with an itinerant Senegalese salesman on the sands at Jesolo, near Venice, on Sunday, Ursula Corel, 65, from Vienna in Austria, had no idea she was being observed through binoculars by police officers perched on the lifeguard tower.

The officers are part of a new 20-strong squad sent out this summer by the local mayor to crack down on the vendors, who hawk bags and clothes up and down the beach. The national trade in fake brand-name goods is worth €7bn a year.

"We are convinced that if the demand drops, so will the offer," said the mayor, Francesco Calzavara, who added he was responding to complaints of heavy selling by the vendors. "One tourist said she was never coming back after being bothered 48 times."

Corel, however, was less impressed by her fine. "Are you joking?" she asked officers, "I don't go to the beach with €1,000, and knew nothing of this law. Some bargain this turned out to be," Corriere della Sera quoted her as saying.

The local hoteliers' association claimed it was seeking Corel to offer to cover her costs, but La Repubblica warned beachgoers up and down the country were facing a "summer of seizures" as local authorities join the campaign, keeping up a tradition of tough beach discipline that has ranged over past years from banning kissing in cars to buiding sandcastles.

On the Tyrrhenian coast, at Forte dei Marmi, the newspaper noted, police will use quad bikes to chase beach vendors.

(Published by The Guardian – June 7, 2010)

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