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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fashion Crime: Fakes Spread on Net

PARIS -- The Internet is turning out to be a fabulous tool for counterfeiters, who are tapping into the open network to relay pictures of French fashions across the globe to sweatshops turning out fakes, French officials said Thursday.

"Less than 24 hours after the fashion shows, photos from all the collections are made public around the world through the Internet," the French anti-counterfeiting task force CNAC said in its annual report.

It said authorities had opened two investigations of counterfeiting operations using the Internet.

But the head of the CNAC, formed last year as part of a strict 1994 anti-counterfeiting law, said the agency had not worked out a strategy to stop counterfeiters from using the Net.

"We haven't yet organized ourselves," Ladislas Poniatowski told a news conference. "Our work is similar to that of [medical] researchers -- the more we advance, the more the viruses adapt or mutate."

Counterfeiters are also targeting the video and software industries, but France's fashion and perfume houses remain the prime targets, he said.

France is particularly vulnerable, with seven out of 10 fakes copying a French product, according to the ministry.

The Industry Ministry estimates counterfeiting costs the French economy between 25 billion and 30 billion francs ($5.8 billion) a year and represents 30,000 jobs.

The bulk of counterfeit goods seized by French customs are made in Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. But the CNAC report said counterfeit production is on the rise in Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, the United States and some parts of Africa.