Designer knockoffs

Designer hats, purses, shoes, shirts, sunglasses...All at less than half the price!

Sounds like a great deal doesn't it?

Fraud investigator Keith Haney says making and selling fakes runs rampant here in the Mid-South.

Haney says, "We work with law enforcement every day."

And while there's no shortage of bargain buyers -- shady sellers are breaking the law!

"We have made cases in THIS area that we followed back to Russian organized crime in New York, Chinese organized crime in Seattle and Houston," continues Haney.

Haney represents 26 different trademarks....his job is to scope out designer knock offs in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.  Nationwide, profits from the illegal sales of these phoney fashion statements is expected to reach 450 billion dollars this year.

Clothing for women and men was the bulk of the counterfeit inventory that was confiscated when police raided this South Memphis flea market last month.

While a lot of customers knowingly buy knockoffs,  investigators say some people are led to believe they're getting the real deal.

So how do you know?

Tell tale signs that this is a fake Kate Spade....the emblem is attached with prongs, rather than sewn or braided on.  There is also plastic wrapped around the handles.

Haney has even caught vendors displaying unmarked bags, then attaching a designer tag at the point of sale.

Even a counterfeit crackdown in Memphis and Shelby County hasn't stopped some sellers.  Why?

Haney says, "Money.  There is a huge amount of money being made by selling counterfeit items."

And Haney says, punishment for the crime is much less serious than the sale of other illegal items such as drugs.

So even if you saved a few bucks on that fake Fendi -- supporting organized crime is no deal at all!