Crime du Jour, Day 25: Racketeering

Crime du Jour: 31 Days of Malfeasance, Misconduct, and Immorality

One crime story per day, all the way through October. Ebook to be published Nov 1. This will be under my mystery/crime pen name, Diane R. Thompson!


Crime du Jour #25: Racketeering


Many famous brands of athletic shoes are not only marvels of engineering that protect your foot from strain and injury during exercise, but serve as status symbols.  Many a famous actor or actress has been spotted wearing a famous logo on their feet while being snapped by the paparazzi! It’s well known, even if it’s not logical, that putting on a new pair of well-known kicks can boost your ego as well as your performance. That’s not to say that expensive shoes aren’t really worth it—they are! Authentic shoes from well-known brands are safe and extremely comfortable, as well as stylish.

However, expensive athletic shoes are expensive. Those of us who aren’t rich and famous can find ourselves at the online store for an expensive shoe brand, thinking, “If only these shoes weren’t so expensive!”

We often find ourselves turning to our search engines to find a better deal.  Nobody wants to pay full price!

Unfortunately, what happens is that customers often end up at scam websites!  Cheap knockoff versions of expensive brands are all over the place.

Besides being cheap, those knockoff brands are often badly built and uncomfortable, and can lead to injury. Beware!

Here are five tips for determining whether your shoes are the real thing:

  1. Beware of inexpensive shoes!

The first thing to beware of is shoes that are unreasonably inexpensive.  Even a used pair of expensive, authentic shoes can be more expensive than a brand-new pair from a cheaper brand.

  1. Compare the photos of the shoes with the authorized versions from the brand’s website page.

Often, manufacturers of knockoff shoes will make a version of the shoe that doesn’t quite match the authentic one.  If it looks fake, it probably is. Some details may be skipped, or be a slightly different color, be in the wrong position—or be from an outdated version of the shoe! Always check for the manufacturing date 🙂

  1. Check the packaging and tags.

Counterfeit shoes aren’t necessarily sold on big-name retailer websites. Sometimes they’re sold one pair at a time, on e-commerce, message-board, and used-clothing websites. Counterfeit shoes sold that way are often marked “New without box” or “New without tags.” Counterfeiters have already done all the work to produce cheap shoes—they don’t want to take the extra step to make the boxes and tags, too!

Counterfeit shoes will often arrive in a plastic bag with no box, in an unmarked shoe box, or in a cheaply made “brand-name” box that doesn’t hold together very well.

Another good thing to check on the box is the item’s SKU number, or Stock Keeping Unit number.  Knockoff shoes will often have last year’s number!

  1. Check the materials.

If your shoes have stood up to the tests so far, the next step is checking the materials of the shoe.  Brand-name shoes are generally made with the most expensive, high-tech materials available.  Knockoff shoes will often substitute cheaper materials, such as inferior grades of cushioning plastic, and pleather accent materials rather than genuine leather.  If your shoe doesn’t feel securely sewed and glued together—run!

  1. Check the performance.

The last step is to put your shoes on.  Do they feel comfortable?  Do they fit your feet properly? Do you feel secure?  Before taking your shoes outside, try out several different stances, including standing, squatting, moving into and out of a runner’s pose, or even a few yoga positions.  Knockoff shoes will often feel flimsy, unstable, and, well…just poorly engineered!

Don’t be afraid to return uncomfortable shoes for a refund, even if the seller pretends not to understand English. You are not required to prove that the shoes are knockoffs in order to return them! If an individual seller gives you any trouble, go to the retailer’s website for assistance. Retailers are used to dealing with customer complaints about knockoff products, and have a standard protocol for getting you your money back!

In 2017, over $1.2 billion dollars of counterfeit goods were captured and destroyed by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, an increase of over 8% from the year before. Also, in 2017, the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property says that the loss from the U.S. economy caused by counterfeit goods, software and other types of piracy, and theft of trade secrets may be up to $600 billion dollars a year!  China counts as the #1 world culprit, accounting for about 87% of counterfeit goods entering the U.S.  That’s a lot of jobs!

Most of those counterfeit goods come from Chinese factories dedicated to mass-producing knockoff goods.  In fact, there’s an entire town dedicated to making “replicas” of U.S. goods.  They are sold in large lots to American resellers, often college students or stay-at-home moms working out of their basements.  They’ll collect orders and the cash, then serve as a middleman for Chinese black-market sellers, who drop-ship the illegal shoes directly from China. It’s like a Mafia for knockoff shoes!

And most of these shoes are worth exactly what you pay for!  But, mes chiots, a little bird once told me that, when the authorized brand-name factories in China shut down for the night, they sometimes end up with a few more boxes of shoes than shows up on their reports.  Real shoes, made at the real factories, sold straight to the black market, can you imagine?

With some pairs of brand-name shoes going for U.S. $1500 and up as shoe collectors go to war with each other, everyone wants into the knockoff market!

But these knockoffs-of-a-knockoff shoes, if they even exist, are far and few between.

If your shoes check out, then congratulations! While there is no way to be 100% sure that you’re wearing the “real deal” with expensive, name-brand sneakers, with due diligence, you can be 99.99% sure—and for that other .01%, then at least you have the satisfaction of knowing that nobody else can tell, either!

Happy shoe hunting, shoe hounds!

Marie of La Chienne de Chausseur



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You can find 2018’s story-a-day project, Tales of the Normal, here, and 2017’s story-a-day project, October Nights, here.

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