Are they real or are they fake?
According to Aaron Katersky of ABC News in a report on Tuesday, five people were charged for trafficking thousands of counterfeit Nike Air Jordans, a shoe originally created for Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan, in New York.
The copies would have been worth $73 million if they were real, authentic sneakers, according to the NYPD and Homeland Security Investigations. Court records say the smugglers shipped 42 containers of the replicated shoes.
Police said investigators examined almost 27,000 pairs of the sneakers over the last eight months and then charged the shoe-runners with counterfeit trafficking conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods. Each person could face up to 20 years in prison as a maximum potential sentence.
“These five individuals are alleged to have been a part of a large scale counterfeiting scheme, importing nearly a half million pairs of knock-off Nike sneakers,” ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said. “These counterfeiting networks can be both detrimental to our economy and threaten our national security, and HSI will continue to take every measure in investigating and dismantling these organizations.”
The fakes looked like the actual licensed product, but they did not have the genuine trademarked logos, court records said. The unregistered Nike Air Jordan emblems were added to the shoes when they got to Brooklyn and Queens, according to the NYPD and HSI.
“The five defendants in this case allegedly counterfeited over $70 million in fake Nike shoes and sold them to buyers on the U.S. market,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said. “I commend our law enforcement partners for helping to bring today’s charges, which send a clear message to would-be counterfeiters: 'Just don’t do it.’”
Nike Air Jordans were introduced in 1984 for Jordan himself and continue to grow in popularity around the world today. According to Business Insider, the Jordan IV was the sixth best-selling sneaker in 2017.