RUTHERFORDTON — U.S. Customs officers say knock-offs are showing up everywhere – even in Rutherford County! A local business, Graphics & Awards Unlimited owned by Kelly and Tammy Aldridge, was cited in 2016 for ordering and possessing fake Yeti cups manufactured in China. The N.C. Department of Commerce Anti-Counterfeit Task Force conducted the investigation.
The danger is the cup could be made with hazardous materials such as lead. A 30-ounce tumbler typically retails for $40, but anti-counterfeiting agents say the fakes are being sold online for between $12 and $13.
Steve Fitch of the N.C. Department of Commerce Anti-Counterfeit Task Force confirmed last week that Case ATM160514 was an investigation into Graphics & Awards Unlimited purchase of counterfeit goods. According to Fitch, 9 fake Yeti cups were surrendered by the Aldridges who had ordered them from a website.
Fitch said the investigator talked to the Aldridges and since it was their first incident, he gave them a warning and had them sign documents regarding their acknowledgement of counterfeit goods.
Since Lt. Tammy Aldridge was then the director of 911 and an employee of Rutherford County, the Task Force presented a closed case to Sheriff Chris Francis, her supervisor.
A public records request for Tammy Aldridge revealed that she did not have any disciplinary actions.
There was no notification to the public from the parties or the sheriff. The Aldridges did not respond to our question as to whether they offered people their money back.
Selling counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime. Police say consumers are paying good money for products that might not work – or even worse – could cause serious problems.
Customs officers across the country are cracking down – intercepting shipments from China, India and Turkey. They say most of the fakes were ordered on the Internet – and shipped through carriers like USPS, UPS, DHL and FedEx.