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Counterfeit Goods Gone Bad: Cons Sell Low Tech Laptops

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on August 06, 2010 7:03 AM

This case, friends, lends new meaning to the term "blockhead." Possibly well meaning but probably dim consumers of the latest in laptop computing have been flim-flammed into purchasing not the new Dell they thought they were getting, but quite literally a block (head) of wood. The product was dressed up in the prettily protective packaging of bubble wrap and, of course, a nice label. Don't believe everything you read.

Police in Norman, Oklahoma say they have busted a tri-state ring of computer criminals selling the fake laptops. As is often the case, a routine traffic stop helped pull the plug on the crime ring, according to a Oklahoma News 9 report. During the stop, police discovered what they thought were laptop boxes in the back seat of the car. The boxes looked authentic, right down to the dealer labels and bubble wrap, but inside there was nothing but a piece of painted plywood. Imagine the attention to fine detail -- they painted the plywood.

"I tore open the bubble wrap and it was actually a piece of plywood that was painted black, exactly the size of a laptop, and it had the Dell logo affixed on it," Norman Police Detective Kellee Robertson told News 9. Officers promptly arrested the driver of the car, 29 year-old Milton White. He's charged in Cleveland County, Ok. with violating the Trademark Anti-Counterfeiting Act. Oklahoma police believe the scam could include selling counterfeit goods in Texas and Kansas, as well.

The authorities believe the three state scam selling the fake laptops operated in low tech (parking lots) and high-tech (Craigslist) ways. One victim had already complained that she paid $400 for her "laptop" which turned out to be crafted entirely of wood. Fortunately, the intelligent criminal who sold her the goods left her his cell number. Now here is where the story gets just a bit better. News 9 reports that police called the number and could hear it ringing ... in Milton White's car. Technology really does make modern life more convenient.

Before we wrap this case neatly in bubble wrap and consign the perp to an Oklahoma jail cell, we should ask, was Milton really selling "counterfeit" computers? Usually counterfeit goods try to look so much like the originals (fake Fendi purses, fake Rolex watches) that the buyer is legitimately confused by the true origin of the products. Despite the great fake label, who would really think that Dell would sell you a block of wood? Only a block ... we won't even say it.

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