Graphics & Awards Unlimited’s counterfeit Yeti cups surrendered in Rutherford County

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.

Buyer be aware. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Avoid the fakes

  • Know what the genuine article looks like: The manufacturer’s website is a good source of information. Check the quality of the workmanship, the material the product is made from and how the item is constructed.
  • Review labels and packaging: Look for missing product information, broken safety seals, misspellings, and strange packaging. Any of these could indicate a fake.
  • Check the price: If the price on brand names is significantly lower than retail, be careful. For example, officers say Rolex will never sell a watch for $150, and Yeti won’t sell their Ramblers in the $10 price range.
  • Look at the ratings for online sellers: If they’re bad, or they don’t have any reviews, stay away.
  • Buy from reputable retailers: Many legitimate companies have lists of authorized resellers on their websites.
  • Know commonly counterfeited items: Some of the most popular counterfeit products are pharmaceuticals, sports jerseys, personal care products, shoes, toys, headphones, luxury goods, and electronics.
  • Be wary of American-made items sold by third-party retailers overseas: If it takes a long time for delivery, that’s a red flag. For example, an authentic Apple iPhone won’t come from overseas, and it won’t take a month to be delivered.
  • Trust your gut: If the price tag is too low, it’s probably a phony.