Where to Spot the Fakes: DC’s Crime Museum

The museum just launched a new permanent exhibit featuring a wide array of counterfeit goods from the black market—gathered up with the help of several trade groups.

The Louis Vuitton bags? Fake. The Les Paul guitars? Also fake.

In fact, everything in the Crime Museum’s new exhibit—”Counterfeit Crimes: Are You Part of the Black Market?”—is a totally not-real, fakey-fake-fake counterfeit. Where’d the museum gather all these knockoffs? Easy: A few associations helped collect them.

Companies aren’t the only ones threatened by counterfeit goods. There’s a public safety aspect that poses a real and present danger.

The industry groups that helped the Washington DC-based museum assemble the collection include the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), Underwriters Laboratories, and the Entertainment Software Association, along with a wide array of companies and the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The goal is twofold—to show off the gear (let’s admit it—a knockoff PlayStation holds a bit of novelty value) and to teach the public about the dangers that go hand-in-hand with the black market.

“What many don’t realize is that the counterfeit trade is organized crime on a global scale, and the counterfeiters don’t care who gets hurt. We want the public to understand the real price of counterfeit goods,” IACC President Bob Barchiesi said in a news release. “We are thrilled to be a part of this gallery—the first of its kind in the United States, following exhibits in Paris and Bangkok.”

Many counterfeit products pose dangers for consumers. For example, The Daily Beast notes, people who take a knock-off version of Viagra may face significant health dangers when they ingest ingredients that are far from FDA-approved—such as rat poison or printer ink.

“Companies aren’t the only ones threatened by counterfeit goods,” Barchiesi told The Daily Beast. “There’s a public safety aspect that poses a real and present danger.”

The new exhibit, which opened this week, is the museum’s first new exhibit since it opened to the public six years ago.

Locals can get more information, including directions and costs, at the museum’s website.

A display of counterfeit Nintendo video games. (via the Crime Museum's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!