Kris Buckner is the president of Investigative Consultants, with over 22 years of experience in investigations related to trademark counterfeiting, piracy, and other intellectual property matters.
[Featured photo by Ryan Hartford of Ecliptic Media]
What We Discuss with Kris Buckner:
- Why the trillion-dollar counterfeiting industry should concern you — even if you don’t care that the “Gucci” bag you got for $12 can’t be spotted as a knockoff by the snootiest in your circle of friends.
- What gets counterfeited? You name it: designer clothes, automobile parts, cancer medication, alcohol, makeup, vaping products, perfume, computer parts, and kids’ cough syrup are just the tip of the iceberg.
- How buying or selling counterfeit goods — knowingly or otherwise — potentially benefits corrupt regimes, terrorists, and organized crime networks around the world.
- The real harm counterfeit goods pose to the end consumer, from health risks associated with contaminated products to loose parts that can become choking hazards for small children.
- The real harm counterfeit goods pose to the legitimate economy, from fewer jobs to less tax revenue that funds law enforcement and education.
- And much more…
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You may have shrugged and said “What’s the real harm?” when you paid $15 to some dude in the Stuckey’s parking lot just off the interstate for a fake Chanel handbag that fooled all your friends at Sunday brunch. Perhaps you couldn’t nab the hottest toy for your nephew last Christmas because they were sold out everywhere from here to Poughkeepsie, so you slipped a crisp $50 to a guy in the office mailroom to secure you an “Eddy” Ruxpin — hoping your nephew isn’t old enough to read (or observant enough to notice) yet. But would your indifference toward product legitimacy extend toward cosmetics you put on your face, food you feed to your pets, brakes that stop your car, or drugs you trust to relieve the symptoms of a terminal ailment?
In this episode, we’re joined by Investigative Consultants president Kris Buckner, an expert who’s spent more than two decades rooting out the counterfeit goods and services that fuel a trillion-dollar industry that only benefits petty crooks, terrorist cells, tyrannical regimes, and organized crime networks. So who does counterfeiting really hurt? All of the rest of us who get left holding the (fake and possibly health-hazardous) bag. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
[All featured photos by Ryan Hartford of Ecliptic Media]
THANKS, KRIS BUCKNER!
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Investigative Consultants
- Investigative Consultants at YouTube
- Kris Buckner at LinkedIn
- Broken, Netflix
- Fake! Inside the Terrifying, Trillion-Dollar Bootleg Industry, Complex
- The Moment an Undercover Agent Bought Suspected Counterfeit Medicine, ABC 2020
- Counterfeiting: The Business of Counterfeits and Knock-Offs, Documentary Guru
- Old School Owners Arrested on Felony Counterfeiting Charges Following Fox 11 Investigation, Fox 11 Los Angeles
Transcript for Kris Buckner | Who Does Counterfeiting Really Hurt? (Episode 308)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:04] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. We want you to become a better thinker. If you're new to the show, we've got episodes with spies and CEOs, athletes and authors, thinkers and performers, as well as toolboxes for skills like negotiation, public speaking, body language, persuasion, and more. So if you're smart and you like to learn and improve, then you'll be right at home here with us.
[00:00:40] Today, counterfeiting, it goes back thousands of years. We've discovered fake wine or olive oil jar seals and ship rags at the bottom of the sea designed to hide the source or quality of the wine or the olive oil. For me, I don't give a crap if a jacket or shoes from a designer are fake. On the other hand, the seller is committing fraud against consumers and the brands but worse, they're contributing to an organized crime network that breeds corruption and potentially traffics other things like drugs and even people. Creating smuggling networks is bad inherently because as we'll learn today, they can be used for other things, not just shoes, but humans, drugs, weapons, and more. Today, we're speaking with Kris Buckner. If you've watched Broken on Netflix as per our previous recommendation, and you saw the makeup episode, you get a taste of what he does, but it's not just makeup. He's a counterfeit investigator who works with police to intercept tens of millions of dollars in counterfeit goods and trace them back to their roots in organized crime -- talk about a fascinating line of work. Today, we do a deep dive into the shady world of counterfeit goods, illicit drugs, and even medical treatments that can harm or kill the people that use them. A fascinating subject, and as a little bonus, you'll see on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube we did a walkthrough of Kris's warehouse where we do a little show-and-tell and get a glimpse of a world that most of us never get to see.
[00:02:00] If you want to know how I find guests like this, it's always, always through my network and I'm teaching you how to create a network for your own personal or business purposes. That's our course, Six-Minute Networking. It's a free course. It will always be a free course, and that's at jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribe to the course and the newsletter, so come join us. You'll be in great company. Here we go with Kris Buckner.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:26] First of all, what kind of counterfeit goods are there? Because I'm looking around and I see handbags, but I also see things like medication and there are electronics down here that we looked at. I mean, this is a little bit more comprehensive than I thought.
Kris Buckner: [00:02:39] I mean, anything and everything is counterfeit from automobile parts, cancer medication, alcohol, kids cough syrup -- I mean anything and everything, anything that somebody can fake to make money, they're going to do it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:52] Yeah, it's scary to see the makeup and the vape stuff because you're putting that in your body. The drugs are the scariest by far, and I think it's really disgusting to see, and we'll get into why that is and how people run those businesses. But everyday items are some of the most copied, which actually makes sense, right? If you're using Tylenol or whatever it is, every day, you can make more because you're selling more. People buy a handbag a few times a year at most.
Kris Buckner: [00:03:14] Exactly. You're spot on with that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:16] Do you have any idea what kind of percentage of everyday items are a counterfeiter or let's say car parts is what, like five percent, one percent -- do you have any idea?
Kris Buckner: [00:03:25] It's hard to break it down by percentages by commodity, but it tells me that 10 percent of the goods in the global marketplace are counterfeit. But if we're just looking at like let's say pharmaceuticals for instance, on all of our raids, we would estimate that anywhere from eight to 10 percent of the items seized were actually counterfeit. Pretty scary.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:41] Meaning eight to 10 percent of the items are counterfeit when you seize them.
Kris Buckner: [00:03:44] Yeah. Eight to 10 percent of the pharmaceuticals are counterfeit.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:47] And the rest are the real thing.
Kris Buckner: [00:03:49] Yeah. So everything else is generally illicit. So it's drugs that are made to be sold outside the United States, generally.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:54] Non-FDA approved type stuff.
Kris Buckner: [00:03:56] 100 percent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:57] Oh, weird. Okay. Some of the stuff we looked at in our walkthrough, and by the way, if you're listening to this right now, if you go to our YouTube channel, jordanharbinger.com/youtube. There's a lot of B roll. There's a lot of walkthroughs of the warehouse that we're sitting in right now with how many millions of dollars' worth of stuff is back there.
Kris Buckner: [00:04:13] It's tens of millions of dollars in pharmaceuticals, tobacco, shoes. You name it. We've got it here.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:19] Yeah, I mean, pill pressing machines, fake airbags. I mean, this stuff is not just clothing and fashion. What do you think is the most surprising item you've seen counterfeited? Airbags for me was a surprise, but you've got to see some stuff.
Kris Buckner: [00:04:31] You know, I don't know about surprises. I mean, really the most egregious thing is counterfeiting cancer meds where people who are dying of cancer and need this valuable medication are getting placebos. I mean, cancer meds that have no active pharmaceutical ingredients. So that's the most egregious thing. The surprising thing, nothing surprises me anymore. So if somebody is going to pay a dollar for something, they're going to counterfeit it. There's really nothing that surprises me anymore.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:52] I mean, even downstairs before we started, I was like, I'm going to go to the bathroom. I walk in and there's -- I don't know -- Chanel, well, air quotes, Chanel rug on the floor, and I'm thinking, this was definitely a trophy that you grabbed from some guys bathroom.
Kris Buckner: [00:05:08] These guys were making rugs, furniture, toilet paper holders, marijuana containers -- I mean anything and everything that they could throw a brand name on, they're going to throw the brand name on it to make money.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:19] You've got to wonder about the supply chain for this kind of thing too. I mean, it has to be almost as advanced as the real deal.
Kris Buckner: [00:05:25] I would tell you that counterfeiters in certain circumstances are much more strategic and much more organized in some of the up and coming brands. These guys are super sophisticated.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:35] When we look at household chemicals and things like that. I mean, I'm looking around and -- can I mention some of the brands that we've seen counterfeited or not?
Kris Buckner: [00:05:41] You can mention whatever you want. I can't, you can.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:44] Got it. So there's a popular brand of detergent -- well, there's a popular brand at pretty much everything in here that's fake. But we're downstairs and I'm looking at industrial-sized buckets full of Tide detergent with foreign language markings on it and stuff that you wouldn't find at a regular grocery store. Why are they making that though? Like what can the margin be on fake detergent? Why not stick with high-end luxury items?
Kris Buckner: [00:06:07] You know what's scary is if it costs them a dollar to make that counterfeit detergent, how much do you think that bucket's being sold for? Those buckets were being sold for 30 bucks. So that's $29 cash in their pocket because you got to remember kind of hers don't pay their taxes. You know, they're not paying their employees' workers' compensation insurance, things like that. It's a huge profit margin that these guys make, you know, 10 times more than legitimate businesses because they don't pay taxes. They don't contribute to the legitimate economy whatsoever. And the cost for making counterfeits, it's minimal. I mean, you got to look at the conditions and where these kinds of fits are made. Genuinely source countries, child labor, human trafficking involved. There's a lot of things that people don't understand about it, Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:45] Why do we care if we get fake makeup? Who cares? "I got a 13-year-old daughter. She doesn't need high-end $250 eyeliner kits." Why not just get fake stuff? They're going to use it for a couple of months, throw it away, lose it. Their friend is going to take it to school and drop it in the garbage, whatever. Who cares?
Kris Buckner: [00:07:02] You know, the bummer is a lot of people kind of think like that, but when you look at cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, this is something you're putting on or in your body. So you want to make sure that's passed safety regulation testing and that it's safer for somebody to consume or to place on their body. I mean, we found human feces, rat feces and carcinogens in some of the counterfeit makeup. And there's been recent news reports where there's been kind of like Ponds face lightening cream that contained mercury. I mean, it's really, really scary. I mean, people can actually die or really get harmed over this stuff.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:33] On the Netflix special Broken where I first encountered your line of work, there was a young girl who talked about buying, I don't know fake Kylie Jenner makeup or something, and it had superglue in it. She ended up gluing her lips together and having some serious scarring as a result.
Kris Buckner: [00:07:48] I think you got to really look at things. I mean, counterfeiters don't care about your health, safety, or wellbeing. The one thing they care about, Jordan, is making money. So they're going to make that item as cheap as possible. They don't care if it's contaminated as long as you will buy it and they get your money, that's all they really care about. And if you surf around YouTube, you'll find hundreds of videos of people that we'll talk about putting counterfeit makeup on their faces and then breaking out getting, pink eye, or having other serious situations occur.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:14] I got to ask her though why the pee? Why the feces? I know they don't care, but how does that even get in there like, "Oh, I need eight ounces of water and there's nothing around. Let me take a leak in here."
Kris Buckner: [00:08:26] That's pretty much it because you've got to look at the conditions of these countries, this source countries, where the stuff is made, they don't care if the stuff is going to get contaminated. They've got pigs running around in their little factory where they're putting together their counterfeit makeup. They don't really care. They're just going to package it up. They have no care or concern for the end consumers. So some of these quote-unquote good deals are not good deals. I mean, you're consuming this stuff or putting on your body at extreme risk to yourself.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:50] Even the counterfeit stuffed animals where I thought, "Okay, well, here's something that's probably harmless. Maybe a kid could choke on a piece of it if it's not made well, but generally, it's going to be fine." And you said, "Yeah, we've found these things stuffed with -- what was it? -- dirty diapers?"
Kris Buckner: [00:09:03] Dirty diapers with human feces inside. Again, they don't really care how they manufacture these items as long as they're making their money. There is no care concern. And I think the bummer is the common perception of poor people just trying to get by or trying to make a living. It's really not the case. I mean, this stuff is tied to organized crime, criminal cartels. I mean, there's a whole big picture behind this stuff.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:25] Yeah. I want to get into that in a little bit as well. I mean, it's, I just want to highlight the fact that there are things like fake toothpaste that have brick dust, urine, industrial chemicals, and that's not just, "Okay, fine. It's some sort of like hair gel." This is toothpaste. You're brushing your teeth with brick dust if you're lucky. That's all that's in there.
Kris Buckner: [00:09:46] You know what? Exactly you're lucky if that's all that's in there. Again, these guys don't care what they put in these items, as long as they're making money from you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:53] A lot of people are thinking, "Look, this doesn't matter." You sort of mentioned this before. "It's a victimless crime. It's only hurting Louis Vuitton or whoever, these guys have millions of millions of dollars." There's a Gucci wallet sitting here. It's fake. Who cares? This is a multimillion-dollar brand. The other argument is, look, people who are buying a two-dollar knock-off, they're not even on the market for their $300 real deal. So it's not even poaching sales from the actual company.
Kris Buckner: [00:10:17] Yeah. I mean, look, some of that could be true, right? But if it diminishes the value of the actual trademark itself, but again, when you're buying a luxury good, it's a different argument than if you're buying pharmaceuticals, right? Generally, if you're buying a counterfeit luxury good, these people will probably tell you that it's a counterfeit, but when you're buying these kinds of cancer meds and these other items, they're not telling you it's counterfeit. The patient's not making a conscious choice.
[00:10:40] The other thing is I would look at -- it's not so much the companies that are suffering, though they are suffering huge losses. Look at our economy. These kinds do not pay back into the legitimate economy, thus less jobs, less tax revenue, less money for school, less money for police, and then not even talking about where this funding is actually really going. So it's not just about the company's losing money, it's what is the overall negative impact to our communities.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:03] It is lucrative to sell counterfeit goods, obviously, or people wouldn't do it. How does it then tie into organized crime? I mean, it seems like, "Okay, fine. They've got to have somebody who's selling them this," but if we're looking at that as the organized crime, I'm thinking, "All right, fine. So some guy ships in a container of fake belts and they distribute it to a bunch of people. Selling stuff in Santee Alley in L.A. -- who cares?" Obviously organized crime doesn't just stick to one vertical, I guess.
Kris Buckner: [00:11:28] You know, so I've been doing this since 1995 and I can tell you that terrorist organizations are doing this. Hezbollah is one of the number one terrorist organizations that actually utilizes the sales of counterfeit goods to raise money for their causes. The sales of counterfeit goods are actually listed in Al-Qaeda's training manual on a quick and easy way to raise revenue for operational purposes. You've got the drug cartels that are involved. I mean, any and every criminal organization, they're now involved in this stuff because of why -- who's really seeing any significant jail sentences from the sales of counterfeit goods? It's a crime that's completely worth doing for them where they can make huge amounts of money.
[00:12:03] And then let's look at the human impact. Where are these goods made? Child labor is involved. There's a whole big picture behind the scenes that people don't really understand. I think if people knew that this money was going to the MS-13 gang, they would make a different choice of buying those counterfeit goods.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:17] We'll talk about the child labor thing in a second because that is kind of heartbreaking in many, many ways. People don't really think. "Wow. I could be selling cocaine. No thanks. I've got a cute little of this. I might make several hundred thousand dollars but then I can go to prison for 20 years, or I can sell a truckload of fake handbags, maybe get probation or a couple of weeks or months of jail time or a fine or something like that. But that's a similar or the same amount of revenue."
Kris Buckner: [00:12:43] You're exactly spot on. Do you know how much money I can make if I bring in a container of counterfeit goods and sell those handbags?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:51] I don't know. How many handbags are in a container?
Kris Buckner: [00:12:52] About in thousands but you make about a million bucks after you pay all your guys, you can make a million dollars for every container that you bring into the country. If that person gets caught with that container, if they have no prior criminal history, they're going to get probation. So again, it's a crime that's worth doing. However, if I sell a million-dollar worth of cocaine, what's going to happen to me?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:11] Yeah, you're going to slammer.
Kris Buckner: [00:13:12] Yeah. I mean this, it's a crime worth doing. It's a smart crime to be involved with because as we decriminalize all these different crimes. Again, who's seen any significant jail time for selling counterfeit goods.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:22] Why are the penalties so low? Is it because we as an electorate or if we're in Congress, we don't really think about the ramifications of all this and we just look at the end result like, "Hey, it's illegal, you're diluting a trademark. Stop doing that."
Kris Buckner: [00:13:35] Well, the reason is why I'm talking to you today. I mean, the education has to get out there. The people have to understand what the true economic and human impact of counterfeiting really is. I think, unfortunately, people just think like it's luxury goods companies who are selling their product for too much money anyway. Who really cares? But the same guy that's selling counterfeit luxury goods is selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals. These are criminal organizations that are engaged in this, and we've got to get the education and awareness out there. We've got to protect -- I mean, what makes America so great is our economy. We're the number one economy. That's what makes us so great. And we have to protect the companies and the US economy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:10] We were looking before, during the walkthrough and again on our YouTube channel, you can see we're looking at these fake airbags or whatever, and there's like metal stamp logos that are not properly a fixed to the steering wheel, so you go get your car repaired. And they replaced the airbag because I don't know, your brother drove it into a parking meter, and the original one blew. This thing becomes an explosive metal projectile that your kid's driving in front of to school.
Kris Buckner: [00:14:38] Yeah. My kids are all in the driving age. So could you imagine that if my kid died from me installing a counterfeit airbag covering my car because I want to save a couple of bucks and took it to some shady little shop? But that's what people are doing. And when you're trying to get deals that are too good to be true and you're dealing with shady people, you're putting yourself and your family at risk.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:57] Who even knows that these are fake? Like if I go to the mechanic and I say, "Hey, I need a replacement airbag." Does he even know this is fake? Who knowingly does this? Where do we sort of have the line of ignorance where people just don't have a clue?
Kris Buckner: [00:15:09] Well, greedy shady people now, right? So if I'm an automotive repair shop, I know where to go to get legitimate parts. A lot of these guys will turn a blind eye. They'll say, "Hey, I'll buy the counterfeits or all intermixed this stuff, I don't care because I'm going to make a few extra bucks. Who am I really hurting?" Unfortunately, greed takes over in this crime. It's all about the money and the amount of money these guys make, and I've already said it multiple times is astronomical. You will see law enforcement do seizures where they're pulling three million cash out of someone's house. And that's all the proceeds from counterfeit goods. Whereas the general public thinks all poor people just trying to get by trying to make a living. I'm not saying that everybody's making millions. I'm not saying everybody's tied to organized crime. But somewhere down the chain, a criminal organization is involved in that counterfeit item, somewhere down the chain.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:54] Yeah. So the grandma who's selling fake Lego might not be tied to MS-13, but the person who sold her the Lego, the person who sold the Lego to that distributor is certainly tied to some big fish down the line.
Kris Buckner: [00:16:06] Yeah. That factory in China then employed those 12-year-old kids making them work 16 hours a day to produce those Lego.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:13] Yeah. You don't think about that.
Kris Buckner: [00:16:14] Yeah. You don't really look at kind of that big picture and the whole network and the whole supply chain. You've got to look at every aspect of the supply chain. I mean, we've had people involved in trafficking humans, young ladies from Asia, bringing them here in the US, making them work in prostitution and also dealing in counterfeit goods. I mean, what people don't understand, the counterfeits tied to so many other crimes. We've had crimes involving sales of narcotics, weapons, murder. All these things tied back into kind of goods also.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:40] Wow. So that's terrifying. And I think most people are completely ignorant of that. We're just looking at the abuela selling the Gucci belt and we're like, "Oh, I'm glad to support somebody who's trying to make a living and I'm getting something I would never buy at the store because I couldn't afford it." So we almost think of it as a win-win except for, "Oh, sorry, Louis Vuitton, you're out a few hundred bucks, but I was never going to give you my money anyway. I can't afford to."
Kris Buckner: [00:17:03] Yeah. I'm, I'm hoping by talking with you and, and getting the word out there that people just kind of really start understanding what the true impact really is. You know, that person is selling that stuff may not be a bad person. But who did they buy it from? What gang member assisted in smuggling that in? So along with smuggling in counterfeit handbags, they're also smuggling in weapons or drugs into our country. It's not just one aspect of counterfeiting.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:25] Yeah. So more nefarious, and we mentioned this before, are the fake pharmaceuticals, the fake drugs. This stuff is really, really scary. And we saw some of the end results, some of the component parts when we did our walkthrough earlier, and this isn't just fake Viagra, I think a lot of people are thinking, "Oh yeah, I've seen those ads, I've gotten that spam." But these are real prescription drugs for things like freaking cancer. And how pervasive is that though? Like what idea do you have? I looked at this online and FranceTV France24 said something like one out of five prescription drugs was fake in their investigation. That seems like way too much, but what do I know?
Kris Buckner: [00:18:00] Yes. It seems a little high to me too, but I mean, it's a huge problem. And so my mom died of cancer. My twin boys were probably three months old when she died and she died of cancer. And so it's really egregious to see that people are out there selling counterfeit cancer medication that has no therapeutic value whatsoever for the patient. There's no active pharmaceutical ingredient in there, and these people know that, Jordan. So they're making that conscious choice to put that out there. And the problem is, it's a perfect crime, right? So what happens if I'm getting a counterfeit cancer med? I ended up dying. How did I die?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:31] Yeah. No one's going to investigate that.
Kris Buckner: [00:18:32] No one's going to know. The corner's going to say no autopsy died of cancer. So it's a freaking perfect crime for these guys to do. And you're right, it's not just the erectile dysfunction drugs. Let's talk about Xanax and Oxy, and you look at all the recent deaths of very famous people who died because these counterfeits were laced with fentanyl. And that's another thing people don't want to talk about. They just think, "Oh, it's just an overdose." Well, a lot of that is tied to counterfeits, right? Counterfeits laced with fentanyl.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:57] I guess they can't even really find the source. So what are you going to do? Say this person died of an overdose of what? Fentanyl. Great. So we took 17 pills in the last few days or the last day. Where did he get them? We don't know. He was in New York City. He could've got him three hours before he croaks, right? There's no way you can ever trace it.
Kris Buckner: [00:19:15] No, I mean, at times law enforcement has been successful getting it back to the source, but I mean the flow because the cartels are now involved in this stuff -- the flow -- it's just continuing to flood in. Unfortunately, it's not just the common perception is, "Oh, it's just these drug addicts that are overdosing." It's not just that, folks. There's a story of Carrie Luther's son Tosh, a really good kid. He had been unable to sleep because he had hives for about a week. He ends up getting a Xanax from her friend. Just took a quarter of the tab and he died because it was counterfeit. It was laced with fentanyl. This was a good kid, not a drug addict who took a Xanax so he could freaking sleep, Jordan, and he ended up dying.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:51] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Kris Buckner. We'll be right back.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:22:49] I will do just that. Right now, our listeners get $150 off their purchase, plus free shipping at eightsleep.com/jordan. That's E-I-G-H-T-sleep.com/jordan, eightsleep.com/jordan for $150 off and free shipping on your Pod. Go get one. You will love it.
[00:23:07] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Kris Buckner. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don't miss a single thing. And now back to our show with Kris Buckner.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:42] Even personally, I've called friends that late at night and go, "Hey man, I've got a wicked headache. I just ran out of Tylenol. Do you have anything?" And I'll go to my neighbor's house or my buddy's house. And he's like, "Yeah, I've got some Xanax. Just take this," and I'm thinking, "Great, how convenient."
Kris Buckner: [00:23:56] Yeah. But Jordan, you've got to think of where he got the Xanax.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:59] Yeah, I know he bought it from a friend.
Kris Buckner: [00:24:00] Is it counterfeit?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:01] Of course it is.
Kris Buckner: [00:24:02] Yeah. You know, people got to really understand what the potential human impact is. And when you hear Carrie Luther's story about her son, it is just so tragic because it hits so close to home. And that could be you. That could be your wife, that could be your friend, right? So people need to stop abusing these things but also get them from a legitimate pharmacy. If you're going to take these items, get them from a legitimate pharmacy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:23] I think a lot of people are going, "Look, I don't buy pharmaceuticals off the street of some woman pushing a cart, just like I don't buy those hotdogs that somebody has outside the Chinese theater in Hollywood. I'm not buying those either. So this isn't going to affect me." But I'm looking at these news reports and I looked at your white paper. They're finding some of these fake drugs inside pharmacies, especially in the United Kingdom and in Europe. How?
Kris Buckner: [00:24:45] It boils back down to the greed, Jordan. It all boils back down to the greed. There was a counterfeit cancer medication that got into our legitimate supply chain in the US probably about five or six years ago, and it was because doctor's got a fax blast offering them cheap cancer meds at a very low price. And they ended up buying it and distribute it out to their patients and they know they shouldn't be doing that. They can only sell pharmaceuticals that are marketed for the US but this was, I think, Turkish or something like that. But they didn't care because they could make more money and they could bill back the insurance companies more money for these illicit pharmaceuticals.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:19] So it's not the pharmacy being duped. The pharmacy just says, "Screw it. What could go wrong? We're going to sell these and we don't care." Or we don't know.
Kris Buckner: [00:25:26] Like what I would tell you is unfortunately, there are good people and there are bad people and those bad people, especially when you're dealing with pharmaceuticals, don't care because they're falling for the greed, Jordan, and that's what's really sad. And I'm not trying to make a huge difference between handbags and pharmaceuticals, but pharmaceuticals were at another level. People are depending on these products to get healthy and well. So it takes a really different kind of person to sell counterfeit pharma.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:49] Yeah. These are kind of your sociopathic people who are completely okay, essentially murdering somebody who's relying on them for help because they just don't care.
Kris Buckner: [00:25:58] Jordan, they don't care because they're putting money in their pocket. They don't care about what costs as long as they have money in their pocket. They're driving their Mercedes, they're high rolling, posting their photos on Instagram with somebody special. They don't freaking care
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:09] Who's making this stuff?
Kris Buckner: [00:26:11] Who's not making it? It's a big problem. I mean, you saw the pill press?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:14] I did.
Kris Buckner: [00:26:15] Downstairs, so we have some homegrown presses and they're pressing law, the ed stuff here, kind of Xanax, Oxy, things like that, or homegrown here. But China's a major source country for illicit pharmaceuticals. India is a source country. Turkey, El Salvador has a huge problem with the illicit pharmaceuticals and all that stuff down in El Salvador is controlled by MS-13 and 18th Street.
[00:26:36] Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:36] So gangs that would be selling cocaine, marijuana, other drugs, or just saying, what the hell are we doing this for? We already have a smuggling network. Let's run this stuff up North too.
Kris Buckner: [00:26:44] You just talked about the hotdog vendor in front of the theater. What's a cop going to do if he's driving by and in some way, he's got a little cart selling antibiotics and some basic stuff?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:52] He's going to keep driving. He's got other things to do.
Kris Buckner: [00:26:54] That's right. He's going to keep driving. However, if he sees a hand for crack cocaine or meth or ecstasy, he's going to stop doing arrest. And that's unfortunately what these guys capitalize on. These MS-13 gang members know that there's not an emphasis on illicit pharmaceuticals, so they can sit here and they can make these pharmaceuticals smuggled into the US and then distributed throughout the Western United States.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:14] Yeah. That's really scary because if you think, "Well I only buy things from certified wherever," or, "I only get named brand stuff." What happens when you go to your friend's house and his grandma brought her headache medicine and left it in the cabinet. I mean, we've all done this. Or you go to a foreign country like Mexico and you need headache medication. So you just go to the local pharmacy and grab it. You don't know what you're putting in your body. And that's really scary.
Kris Buckner: [00:27:34] No, it is really scary. But that's one great thing about our country, right? We're so heavily regulated in our supply chain and we still have issues, but we have to protect our patients. And that's what's really important about having good solid laws and supporting our enforcement officials to go after these types of crimes because, at the end of the day, it is actually saving lives.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:51] When brands talk publicly about counterfeiting. And I was looking on YouTube, I was trying to do research. There's this customs agent and he's like, "Where's this stuff coming from?" And these guys were just like, "Eh." And they were all kind of looking at the ground and looking at their watch and looking at each other. Why don't they mention China? Why don't they just say, "Hey, this stuff comes from China."
Kris Buckner: [00:28:07] Well, I think China's taken us over one container at a time. I mean, the US is so dependent upon China. You know, we really need to smack China around a little bit and get them to take intellectual property enforcement a lot more seriously. But I think it's a touchy political thing because again, we depend so heavily on China, but we got to pressure on them to make sure that they're cracking down on the counterfeits.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:28] Yeah. It seems like we're dependent on China for the workers, for the materials, for the supply. I've got my Adidas factory in Shenzhen or wherever they're making or whatever in China, they're making this stuff. I can't then shout from the rooftops, "China's doing this," because they can shut down my legitimate business operation, and so you're holding a wolf by the ears. If you blame the enforcement or lack thereof and China for this, then they can shut down your legitimate business operations as well or just make your life harder.
Kris Buckner: [00:28:54] You're a hundred percent accurate.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:57] Because that seems like a big problem because that encourages counterfeiting from the same people or the same factories at the same suppliers that are supplying your illegitimate business.
Kris Buckner: [00:29:06] Yeah. Look, I mean China's a huge issue and it's a huge problem that's going to not only take the brands supporting our government, but it's also going to really take our government cracking down on them to make a difference. China can do it when they want to do it. What happened when the Olympics were in China? They cracked down on all the counterfeit for that period of time when the Olympics were in town. So it can be done, but it's going to take that political pressure. But again, how do you stop counterfeiting? The consumers need to stop buying counterfeits. That's the number one key to solving this crime. When there is, you know, a demand, there's going to be a supply.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:36] Yeah. Just like drugs or anything else.
Kris Buckner: [00:29:38] Hundred percent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:38] What was really disgusting is -- I'm looking this stuff up online -- there's a guy making fake eggs out of chemicals. Have you seen this?
Kris Buckner: [00:29:44] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:45] That was by far one of the most disgusting things I ever saw.
Kris Buckner: [00:29:48] Well, they make fake apples and other fake fruits, I mean, anything and everything that they could throw a label on or sticker on and get more money for it. These guys are very ingenious, Jordan. They're going to do it. If they can make money.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:00] A fake egg makes me want to just projectile vomit all over this nice warehouse full of counterfeit goods. I mean, it's just so vail watching this guy mix powders and like different soapy type coagulants.
Kris Buckner: [00:30:12] Well, you have criminal organizations in those countries where they're actually getting real bottles of Coke and things that have been used, and then refilling those bottles and selling them as new, but basically dirty water. And if you look at media reports in Ukraine and Russia with the counterfeit alcohol problem. I forgot who -- it's hundreds of people that die on a yearly basis from consuming counterfeit alcohol in those countries.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:36] That's made in some guy's bathtub and then put in a vodka bottle.
Kris Buckner: [00:30:39] Hundred percent. I mean, we're investigating a counterfeit injectable coming from El Salvador. And this is something that people are injecting into their bodies with on high levels of bacteria, salt -- I mean all sorts of contaminants and this is someone, something that somebody injecting into their body,
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:55] Geez, so you're bypassing all your body's natural defense mechanisms and getting rid of this stuff and just putting it straight into your organs.
Kris Buckner: [00:31:00] Straight in.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:01] Ump, yeah, really scary. Really, really scary. How is this stuff getting into the country? How was it being smuggled in, or is it even being smuggled in?
Kris Buckner: [00:31:09] So if the majority of counterfeits are coming in or smuggled into the US, one thing you've got to think about is 14,000 containers a day coming into the ports of L.A. and Long Beach alone. And what percentage of those containers do you think are physically checked?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:22] Unless you have a thousand customs agents opening them up. And then what do you do? You're going to open up all the boxes. I just don't even see how you can even look at anything.
Kris Buckner: [00:31:30] Look, one thing is customs and border protection. They do a great job with the resources that you have, but only one percent of those sea containers are actually checked, and then just think about the tens of thousands of mail parcels that are coming into our country on a daily basis. How can they physically check all those parcels? It's a daunting task. There's no way to stem the flow of this stuff unless, you know, we tripled the size of customs and border protection. Give them more resources.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:55] Even if you triple it in case you're taking three percent of the containers.
Kris Buckner: [00:31:59] Yeah. It's still not enough. And again, I think our government, CBP does a really good job trying to do what they can do with their resources, but it's overwhelming. You have criminal networks who really do the math right. So what they'll do, Jordan, is they'll put 10 sea containers on the water at the same time using 10 different cover stories. So let's say 10 percent of those containers get seized, those other nine still get into the country. So it's worth the risk. Even if they get a container seat, it's not even a problem.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:23] Yeah. Especially if you're not paying taxes. You've got slave labor back in your country, creating the goods. It's just the cost of doing business. This is now a three-dollar fake Gucci wallet instead of a two-dollar faker Gucci wallet, and now we've covered the lost container.
Kris Buckner: [00:32:36] Yeah, and I think what the problem is, everybody, when you think about counterfeit, you just think about the big brands who are already globally recognized. What about a small upstart brand who's just starting to make their mark in the marketplace, just starting to become popular. If they become a victim of counterfeiting, that brand can be wiped out. I have seen brands wiped out overnight. Small brands that can't compete.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:54] Geez, just because they get trending and instead of selling their own goods, it's just all counterfeit.
Kris Buckner: [00:32:59] The counterfeiters take over. The counterfeiters set up a hundred different websites. They do search engine optimization, direct the Internet traffic to these illicit sites and thus they kill the legitimate brand.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:10] I saw an investigation from one of your homeboys at LAPD Ishitani and he was showing that they will send in -- let's say, boots -- and once you peel off the sole, then there's the counterfeit Timberland sole underneath, and then they just sell you this brand item, this sort of logo stamp. So the counterfeiter will then put that on the shoe after it's already been imported, peel the sole off and throw it in the garbage, and then you've got the counterfeits sorts of hiding in plain sight.
Kris Buckner: [00:33:38] Yeah, exactly. We have found counterfeit handbags sewn inside a generic handbag, so a customs check for inspection and opens up and looks inside the box, it looks like a generic handbag with no trademarks, but you cut open that hand back and then the counterfeit handbag is sewn inside. Jordan, this is organized crime. These guys are so sophisticated and organized that they'll take great steps to avoid being detected so they can smuggle their goods into the country successfully.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:01] There was a toy that I saw someone disassemble online and the idea behind the toy was they had ordered some fake, I don't know, Viagra or something from another country and this toy violin comes, and I guess they've emailed him instructions, unscrew the back of the violin, so he does, and sure enough, all the pills are inside this violin and you're just supposed to throw away this electronic plastic toy, which is environmental costs aside impossible for someone to detect, because even if they put the violin in x-ray machine, then what? I mean, you have to put every toy violin that gets mailed to the United States through an x-ray machine. It's never going to happen.
Kris Buckner: [00:34:35] Let me ask you, do you think drug cartels are very sophisticated in how they're smuggling in their narcotics into our country?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:40] I have no idea. I mean they have to be.
Kris Buckner: [00:34:43] Yeah. Counterfeiters are the exact same way, Jordan. These guys take the same steps to avoid detection by law enforcement. That these cartels are doing the same, same thing. So they'll insert these items in things that you know won't be detected coming in. The only way you're catching those shipments is if you've got a snitch. Somebody telling you that the shipments are coming in and telling you what to look out for.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:01] I want to highlight though, China is also a victim of this, not just a perpetrator. I think I do a lot of stuff that exposes this in China and that in China. I want to be really clear, China is suffering as much, I think is we are or more from fake drugs, counterfeit stuff. Yes, maybe they're producing this, but it's not like they're only selling it to us. They're selling it to their own people and who's making it -- Chinese kids in these factories in the middle of nowhere. A lot of this stuff is pretty heartbreaking. There was an expo again, of course, online through my research, where people who couldn't get jobs at the legitimate Adidas factory are then going and getting a second rate, half-paid job, also in the middle of nowhere at the fake Adidas, the counterfeiter factory. And some of these investigators are finding out that these people are literally chained to the machines that they're making. I mean, what do we find from this? That there was an investigator online, I think a guy that you also work with who said he was about to do a raid with the police, and he heard children's music and he thought, "Oh, wow, they have childcare for their workers. And then when they came in, they found a bunch of kids at sewing machines handcuffed to the machines." That's what the children's music was because they were there all day and he said the smell was unbearable because they weren't allowed to go to the bathroom.
Kris Buckner: [00:36:13] Yeah. Or they have a bucket in the corner that they have to use to go to the bathroom. I mean, I think China is a victim also, but at the end of the day, you know, these counterfeit organizations will use whatever tactics victimize, whether it's going to be kids or anyone else, as long as they're making money. I'm not as familiar with the problems on the ground in China, but all I know is when consumers are buying these items. That's what causes us problems because if the demand were not there, no one's going to take the time to produce these items.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:38] About 190,000 people in China died from fake medicines. That's what they can trace. So they actually, a few years back, executed the top drug regulator in China because he was knowingly going along with this. He was corrupt. He was taking bribes and said, "All right, I won't inspect this factory or that factory." 200,000 deaths and that's what they could trace to the drugs, who knows how many other people died because the drug wasn't doing anything for them.
Kris Buckner: [00:37:02] But what also that tells you is that these guys don't care who they hurt or kill as long as they are making money. And how much money were those organizations making to kill those people and then pay that government official? It's millions of dollars that they could pay to bribe these people because it's worth it for them to do it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:15] Millions or tens of millions.
Kris Buckner: [00:37:16] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:18] You're not telling them exactly how many fake drugs are making., you're just telling them to stay away from these certain factories. It seems a lot like the brands in China on the ground have given up trying to bust these places because of the level of corruption. There's one investigator who said that when he did a raid with the police, the police were pouring tea for the factory boss because they were all working together and they'd seen him 50 times that year going in and doing the fake bust and telling them, "Hey, you got to shut down." And of course, within days, he was back up and running because they're not really interested in stopping the problem.
Kris Buckner: [00:37:49] That's one of the serious problems with China and some other countries. You can't keep hitting these guys over and over again and the penalties are not going to be there. I'm not saying throw every single counterfeiter in jail for a long period of time, but at the end of the day, some type of deterrent needs to take effect. So if this guy's getting hit once, twice, three times, he should be going to jail. He should be serving significant jail time. I mean, there needs to be some type of action taken in those situations.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:16] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Kris Buckner. We'll be right back after this.
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[00:42:05] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don't forget that worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And now for the conclusion of our episode with Kris Buckner.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:29] We mentioned cartels before as well. So great, they're not selling cocaine as much, or they're not selling crack as much, they're not selling heroin as much. Is this in some ways a good thing? Is it less violent because it's not drugs? Or is it the same thing? Different products?
Kris Buckner: [00:42:43] Well, so I'm not an expert on the whole drug thing, but who says if they're not selling it as much, right? So at the end of the day, all I could tell you is counterfeiting, this is something they've now turned to both to launder their money and to make additional funds. This is something that cartel has recognized as a cartel, especially, "Hey, this is a way that we can raise a huge amount of money and avoid detection." They will sit here and they will come to the US, buy counterfeit goods, smuggle them back to Mexico, sell them in Mexico, and actually claim taxes to wash their money. These guys are super smart. They have a lot of criminal schemes involved in the counterfeit side of things. So I would say that this is something that is supplementing their drug income. This is another branch of their business so they can become even more profitable and more powerful
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:26] From your white paper, one thing that was really interesting for me was the online drug ads. A lot of this stuff's hiding in plain sight. It was a Craigslist ad that said, the book is called the Addie, and it's a study session, and I was like, okay, so Adderall for sale, essentially on Craigslist. I think even the ad set, just being discreet here -- call or text me for info. How the hell are we possibly going to combat something like that? I mean, you can't possibly police everything like this.
Kris Buckner: [00:43:53] Yeah. I mean, the fortunate thing, what we really try to do is we have the brands that we represent. I mean, we're pretty, geared up and educated with the terminologies and things to be looking for. So we're scouting for ads like that all the time, and we're appropriate. We funnel that information to law enforcement to take action on it, but these counterfeiters are very sophisticated, so they'll use code words and things like that because a lot of the online platforms actually will take down postings if there's any illicit services or goods being offered, so they'll do that to avoid that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:19] You mentioned terrorism and national security. How does this stuff affect national security? Is it that there's money being funneled back to Africa, the Middle East, or is this actually exporting technology to these places as well?
Kris Buckner: [00:44:31] Oh, everything that you just said. We've had cases involving counterfeit goods and a subject that was exporting prohibited military technologies to China and to other countries. There was also information that some of the technologies that he was exporting and the things he was exporting, we're ending up an IED in Iraq. So really scary and we know that ISIS -- ISIS is a little bit on the run -- but a large amount of the proceeds that they're making are all from illicit cigarette trafficking. Hezbollah was involved in the counterfeit trade. The first documented terrorism the case in the US. Their counterfeit was based on counterfeit cigarettes. Ali Kourani was just recently convicted in December out of New York. He was an ESO for Hezbollah. He was selling counterfeit goods. If you look back at the first attack in France, the Charlie Hebdo attack. There are published reports where the Kouachi brothers were actually selling counterfeit goods.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:21] So that's how they were making a living, living off the books in France.
Kris Buckner: [00:45:24] Exactly. Well, the French officials were up on wiretaps on these guys, and when the talk went from jihad just about their counterfeit operation, they dropped the wires on those guys. A short time later, they did the attack.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:35] So this stuff is inextricably linked. It's not just -- I think the fascinating thing is we don't, and we can't see the back end of this, so it's easy for us to rationalize the purchase. And that's again, like to hammer that point home. That's the exact problem that we're dealing with.
Kris Buckner: [00:45:50] Well, I think sometimes consumers, we have our little blinders on. We don't really want to see what's behind it. What we've got to start looking at that, like you talked about, like that kid that was chained to the sewing machine in China, right? You've got to start looking at, you have a choice. You have buying power and when you're buying that item, you are contributing to that child labor. You're contributing to that terrorist organization. I mean, that is where the money is going, undoubtedly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:14] So what's being done to combat this? I mean, obviously, this is your entire business. But what are the police doing? Let's start there.
Kris Buckner: [00:46:20] Well, I think, you know, law enforcement has limited resources. But I think law enforce was doing a great job combating this based on the research that they have. I mean, the LAPD alone is probably doing raids five times a week, all throughout the city related to counterfeit goods. L.A. County Sheriff's Department is very active. Homeland Security, CBP, there's a lot of entities that are combating this, but again, the problem is just so overwhelming. They can only do so much with the resources that they have.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:44] Five days, imagine we're just in L.A. You have enough raids to do that. You're busy. Monday through Friday, you are busting into someone's operation and taking the goods.
Kris Buckner: [00:46:53] Well, I think everybody kind of trips out on our company a little bit until they come here. We have 22 full-time investigators that are only working on counterfeiting matters. So when you really look at that, what would facilitate such a need. The problem is just so huge.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:08] So who hires you specifically?
Kris Buckner: [00:47:09] So we're hired by the companies themselves. Our job is to go out there and investigate people who are selling, manufacturing, distributing counterfeit merchandise. Once we develop that information and that evidence, we then work with authorities to raid the locations and seize the counterfeit goods.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:22] So you're hired by the brands to protect the trademark, which is interesting because a lot of people might go, "Oh well, of course, you're all about economy cause you're being hired by these big brands." But what's interesting to me is that the big brands, in this case, are pretty much the only people who have the resources to contribute to cost investigations of these supply chains. And that's where we're then finding, "Oh, child labor." "Oh, drug smuggling." "Oh, human trafficking." Because these are all interwoven. So the cops might say, "Look, we can do this once a month. We're going to help out this brand because sure, it's right in plain sight. But doing it five days a week is actually helping drive the progress of combating this in the associated crimes that come with it," the violence and human trafficking, et cetera.
Kris Buckner: [00:48:04] I couldn't have said a better, Jordan, you're, you're spot on. It's not just a, part of that is to protect legitimate commerce, legitimate companies that are paying their taxes, contribute to our economy. But law enforcement understands that there are other crimes involved, the human trafficking, the child labor, and things like that. They get it. They understand that it's very important to protect our communities.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:24] How do you bust these guys? I mean, if the police have limited resources, are you helping them investigate on top of this? You're not just here storing all the goods? I mean, we saw some of the backends of this.
Kris Buckner: [00:48:34] Yeah. So generally what we'll do is, uh, you know, we'll go out and we'll do investigative purchases from Target. So we'll identify who's selling or who's manufacturing those goods. We'll do a whole dossier, a whole workup, and then we present that information to law enforcement for their consideration. Law enforcement will then corroborate that information and make sure that it's legitimate, and then they will generally decide whether to go in and seize and, and do an arrest.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:57] So how are you doing these controlled buys? You're walking up to a vendor with a giant hidden camera on your glasses. What are you guys doing?
Kris Buckner: [00:49:05] I would tell you we're hitting the small vendors to the big criminal organizations. We'll go out and we act as consumers. We could just be somebody that's looking for a handbag for our girlfriend or we could be somebody that's in the business buying wholesale. I mean, it's really no different than how undercover law enforcements are going out and attacking the drug problem. You go out, you attack the street sales, but you also attack the cartels. So our undercovers have to go out there and pose as consumers or business partners of these people to get them to do business with us. And so we can get that evidence to present to law enforcement.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:38] How much am I allowed to say about some of the stuff that we saw downstairs that's still in progress.
Kris Buckner: [00:49:43] You can say whatever you want to say.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:44] Okay, so downstairs, there's a couple of rooms that are set up to look like, I don't know, the office of somebody who's in the business of selling fake pharmaceuticals. So you're online chatting with these people halfway across the world. And essentially pretending to be somebody who's going to import a shipment of fake cancer drugs or whatever.
Kris Buckner: [00:50:04] Yeah. I don't want to give away too many of our trade secrets here, but you're absolutely right. I mean, we have undercover business locations. We have undercover websites. Our undercovers are backstop with undercover social media. We'll populate online the business directories, because again, we've got to make people feel comfortable doing business with us, and it's been harder today in today's world of the Internet, social media and everything else, to really get these guys to believe that we're a fellow bad guy and to do business with us. So we go to all the extremes that the bad guys go to set up our businesses.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:35] Well, okay, so you're messing with the business of MS-13, 18th Street gang, drug cartels, Mexican mafia, Chinese organized crime -- you're not a little worried about that at all? I mean, does that keep you up at night sometimes?
Kris Buckner: [00:50:49] Look, I don't worry about it. Am I a little bit concerned or is it, you know, something that's in the back of my head? Of course, it is. But you know, we believe in treating everybody with respect, whether it's the counterfeiter, the cop, the client, or anyone else, and it's nothing personal. Our jobs to go out there and catch them, their jobs to get away with it. Some days we win, some days they win. That's okay. It's nothing personal. And I think by doing business with those guys that way -- If they get their goods seized, they get arrested, they know it's just a cost of doing business. But when you lie, you disrespect them, that could become a problem.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:20] Ah, okay. So the key is just don't be a total a-hole about this whole thing.
Kris Buckner: [00:51:24] Look, let's be professional, be ethical, do the right thing, and then you shouldn't have to worry about anything.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:30] Interesting. I find it, the whole code of honor, so to speak, very interesting.
Kris Buckner: [00:51:36] So there's a famous place in L.A. called Santee Alley where counterfeit goods are sold. So at times, a lot of brand owners are based in New York, so I had brand owners wanting a tour in Santee Alley. So we're walking them through Santee Alley and guys were coming up, "Hey Kris, how are you?" Shaking my hand. "How are you? How's the family? How's this whatever?" The brand owner asked me, "Well, who's that person?" I go, "That's, you know, this guy, he was arrested for selling counterfeits before." And they're like, "Why would you shake his hand? Why would you be nice to them?" I said, "You know, it's really important that you maintain the respect of the people that you work with, whether the brand owner or the counterfeiter." We treat everybody the same and that's why we want to do business. It's nothing personal. It's just professional. We're doing our job.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:12] Yeah. I guess at the end of the day, the person who's selling the stuff here on the ground in L.A. is maybe connected to, but not the same person as the person chaining up child slaves in China.
Kris Buckner: [00:52:22] Good point. I don't think I'd be shaking that dude's hands, to be honest with you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:25] It's hard to compartmentalize that one.
Kris Buckner: [00:52:26] Hundred percent, hundred percent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:28] Yeah, and I think that's a problem that China has to solve internally. No matter how effective you guys get here at investigative consultants, you're not really going to be on the ground in China anytime soon, I would imagine.
Kris Buckner: [00:52:38] No, I mean, I think the US Department of Justice is really trying to educate other countries. Myself and some other government officials from the US are actually traveling down to South America in a month, and we're actually going to be training government officials, teach them what best practices are here in the US and hopefully, they'll model their intellectual property enforcement programs after what we're doing in the US.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:57] What do you do with all these seized goods? I mean, there are tens of millions of dollars of goods down there. Boxes stacked up like the Indiana Jones warehouse, just millions of dollars of stuff. There are pallets and pallets of, I don't know, makeup, pills, whatever it is over there. Where does it go?
Kris Buckner: [00:53:12] So it just depends like makeups, pills, pharmaceuticals, all that stuff has to be incinerated. Majority of other counterfeit goods, luxury goods, things like that also have to be destroyed. There have been times where we can actually donate some of the counterfeit goods to organizations like World Vision to be donated to Africa so they can be put to use.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:28] That's kind of a relief. I mean, look, I get it. You got to destroy the handbags, but when you're looking at socks, it's just kind of a damn shame.
Kris Buckner: [00:53:35] Yeah. It was really cool after Katrina happened, we had multiple containers of counterfeit blankets that we were able to donate to Katrina victims. When it's possible and when it's feasible, we try to donate that stuff back, but we have to make sure that that stuff doesn't end up back in commerce, but also doesn't pose a health and safety concern to somebody that may consume it or utilize that item. So it's really, really a touchy subject.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:58] I'm thinking about these, the smallpox blankets from back, you know, hundreds of years ago. Look, I might be cold, but I don't want my baby wrapped up in a blanket that has feces, urine, or industrial chemicals instead of regular dye on it. And my kids got it in his mouth because he's five months old. Like that stuff is terrifying. You have to test this stuff, you have to donate that stuff, or you have to destroy that stuff. It's such a massive waste. And economics is just a massive externality on the whole system.
Kris Buckner: [00:54:25] It's a bummer, but it's something that we're trying to work through. But at the end of the day, counterfeits are dangerous. So a lot of that stuff, it's better off being destroyed. So we're not putting the consumers at greater risk.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:34] Is this a situation like the war on drugs where as long as there's demand, the problem can't actually be solved?
Kris Buckner: [00:54:39] Unfortunately, I think it's very, very similar, but I'm very hopeful. I think doing things, talking to you and sitting down and educating people, maybe we can make a difference. Look, the problem of counterfeiting is never going to go away. We just got to get it to where it's manageable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:51] For those of you watching us, instead of just listening, why do I have a table full of marijuana in front of me?
Kris Buckner: [00:54:56] Well, people are knocking off strains of weed also. You name it. Counterfeit vapes, counterfeit weed strains. You name it, people are knocking it off.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:04] I figured that the Jack Daniels is real, but the weed is fake and it's been here for a minute. You can tell.
Kris Buckner: [00:55:10] Yeah, you can tell, it's a little bit drunk.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:11] But it's just here for effect.
Kris Buckner: [00:55:13] Yeah. It's just here as a prop. Thanks so much for your time. You got it. Thank you, Jordan.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:19] Huge. Thank you to Kris for letting us pop by down to his. highly secure warehouse, interrupt his whole day. If you watched the YouTube walkthrough of his warehouse and our little kind of want to be Vice News piece, I mean, the scale of what is intercepted is incredible. The sting rooms and the amount and type of goods seized is just unbelievable. How about those airbags and how about those cancer drugs? Just disgusting. People are dying because of these counterfeiters. They don't even care. Ugh, unbelievable. This was a great episode. I'm so glad I got a chance to do this.
[00:55:54] There's a video of the interview, of course, on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. It also includes our walkthrough, our mini little documentary. Also in the show notes, there are worksheets for each episode, so you can review what you've learned here from Kris Buckner. We've also got transcripts for each episode, and those can be found in the show notes as well. A few folks have said they have trouble finding the show notes. Tap the album art and your phone. That's not the show notes. It's an abbreviated version, but of course, that's better than nothing. And you can find the actual show notes on our website at jordanharbinger.com.
[00:56:25] Also on our website is our networking course, Six-Minute Networking, teaching you how to create and maintain relationships with great people using systems using tiny habits. That's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't do it later. Do it now. Dig the well before you get thirsty, but drills take a few minutes a day. If I'd known this stuff 20 years ago, well, I'd be broadcasting from my freaking yacht. It's not fluff. It's crucial. Find it all for free, jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, as I've said many times, most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course and the newsletter. Come join us, you'll be in smart company. In fact, why not reach out to Kris Buckner? Tell him you enjoyed this episode of the show. Show guests love hearing from you. You never know what might shake out of that. Speaking of building relationships, you can always reach out and/or follow me on social. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.
[00:57:13] This show is created in association with PodcastOne and this episode was produced by Jen Harbinger and Jason DeFillippo, engineered by Jase Sanderson, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yeah, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. I'm sure as heck not a doctor, a therapist, or an undercover counterfeit investigator. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. I can barely hold my own life together sometimes, just like anyone else. Remember. We rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. That should be in every episode. If you know somebody that buys counterfeit stuff and thinks they're doing no harm, if you know somebody that buys fake medicine from the street because they think it's real and they're saving a bunch of money, share this with them. Scare the crap out of them and maybe scare them into living a couple of extra decades. Please share the show with those you love, even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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