Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations
May 8, 2012: NJ Woman Sentenced for Counterfeit Cosmetics
PHILADELPHIA - Lynn Lavigne, 61, of Vineland, NJ, was sentenced today to three years probation, including six months of home confinement, and a $44,215.50 fine for trafficking in over 1,800 items of counterfeit MAC brand cosmetics and accessory items. Lavigne pleaded guilty on December 13, 2011.
The investigation in this case began in August 2010 after Solebury Township Police received a complaint about the cosmetics that Lavigne was selling at a local flea market. The complainant had purchased some MAC brand eyeliner and suffered a rash on her left eyelid within minutes of using it. She suspected that the eyeliner may have been counterfeit based on its substantially reduced purchase price of approximately $7, compared to its usual retail/department store price of approximately $17.50. The Philadelphia trade fraud group began to investigate Lavigne and her husband Michael Lavigne. Undercover purchases of MAC brand products were also made from the Lavigne as part of the investigation.
The investigation revealed that Lynn Lavigne was receiving MAC brand cosmetics from a supplier in China and, on at least five occasions between September 2009 and January 2011, United States Customs and Border Protection seized shipments of counterfeit MAC cosmetics addressed to Lynn Lavigne’s Vineland, NJ address with a total domestic value of approximately $6,100. As a result of those seizures, Lynn Lavigne received notices from U.S. Customs and Border Protection putting her on notice that the merchandise was counterfeit and subject to forfeiture. Despite those notices, Lavigne continued to order and sell counterfeit MAC brand cosmetics which ultimately resulted in the seizure of approximately 1,643 items worth approximately $38,944.50 during a law enforcement raid and seizure at the flea market on June 21, 2011. The Lavignes additionally surrendered approximately 233 counterfeit MAC brand items worth approximately $5,271.
Lavigne admitted that despite receiving notices from CBP regarding seized counterfeit MAC brand products, she elected to continue buying and selling counterfeit cosmetics from her supplier in China until the subsequent raid and seizure by law enforcement at her flea market stand.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, and the Solebury Township Police Department. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Jeffery W. Whitt.