I-TEAM: Louis Vuitton, Chanel? How to tell the difference between real and knock-off designer purses

Real or fake? That's the question facing women who want a nice bag without the big price tag.

Some shoppers in search of a deal are heading to Facebook online yard sales to buy and sell counterfeit bags that look like Coach, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

Gary Woolf is in charge of homeland security investigations in Indianapolis and says the agency is seizing knock-offs from store fronts around the country, they're also monitoring websites for online transactions.

"That person you're selling to could be an undercover police officer, undercover federal agent. You never know.   "

Federal prosecutors says many people think disclosing a bag is fake gets them off the hook.           

Well, it doesn't.

" It's absolutely not a defense if you tell the individual hey this isn't real. Hey, this is a knockoff. You're taking a risk," US attorney Brad Shepard said.

If you go into some flea markets and discount shops, you'll have no problem buying cheap bags with designer looking labels.

 But it's not as easy to find out if the bags are real or fake.

The manufacturers generally don't say how to determine if a bag is genuine. They don't want counterfeiters to have that information.

 "Anything really that is popular is counterfeited," says luxury consignment shop owner Amber Malott.

Malott and her sister, who own a & a boutique in Wesley Chapel say they absolutely can spot a fake and so can you.

"One of the most counterfeited bag brands that we see is Louis Vuitton & Coach," Mallot said.    

The first way to spot a fake Louis bags always line-up down the middle. The IV symbol should also never be cut off.

The same is true for coach bags, its signature c pattern line up in the center.

Malott says another giveaway is the stitching.

"When a bag is fake is the stitching will be very bad. As you can see right here, this stitching is lopsided and crooked."  


But to become an expert, you should know the brand.

Really look at the quality of the leather, make sure the imprinting of labels or tags have the appropriate fonts.

Also check the hardware - major brands often have theirs stamped with a name or logo, and they should feel heavy.

"It's very um, easy to see once you know, really learn about it," Malott said.   

The bottom line---buying or having a knock off is perfectly legal. But unless you know 100-percent that your bag is real, you shouldn't sell it, it could get you into big trouble.

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