Paris police crack down on counterfeit luxury goods ahead of Olympics

Paris, we have a problem.

As the French capital prepares to host the 2024 Olympic Games, police are cracking down on a burgeoning counterfeit market in preparation for the international sporting event. In April, officers raided Seine-Saint-Ouen, home to the city’s largest flea market, where they shut down 11 stores selling fake luxury goods, Reuters reported. A total of 63,000 counterfeits were seized, ranging from fake Louis Vuitton handbags to Nike sneakers, leading to 10 arrests.

“We worked a lot before the Olympics, we carried out many operations and for almost 18 months we trained operational agents, police, customs, gendarmerie and anti-fraud officers,” UNIFAB chief Delphine Sarfati-Sobreira told Reuters.

“And there were big, serious operations, like a few weeks ago, the closure of more than 10 stores in the Saint-Ouen district, which is 500 meters from the Olympic Village. Thousands of counterfeits were confiscated to really clean up this area where there were a lot of counterfeits in circulation,” he added.

Many of the summer Olympic events are set to take place at iconic locations in the City of Light. For example, the Olympic Aquatic Center is being built in the Seine-Saint-Denis district. As well as the closing ceremony, the venue will host competitions in artistic swimming, diving and water polo. However, police have previously raised concerns about unscrupulous street vendors in the area.

Although Paris has long been considered the world’s fashion capital, France has been embroiled in an ongoing battle over counterfeit fashion for several years. In 2023, customs seized 20.5 million fakes, a 78 percent increase from the 11.5 million products seized in 2022.

But in the run-up to the Games, officials have been preparing for the throngs of fans expected to arrive in the coming weeks—and the hordes of counterfeit luxury goods that are likely to be circulating. This spring, UNIFAB helped train 1,200 customs agents to spot fake Games-related goods, including clothing and Phryges, the official mascot. French authorities have also stepped up enforcement efforts, hiring 70 agents to monitor illegal online activity. If you’re planning to attend the big event, be wary of scammers.