June 19, 2015 / 11:14 AM / in 2 years

Italian police block 410 websites selling high-fashion fakes

ROME (Reuters) - Italian authorities have closed down 410 websites selling fake luxury goods including Prada handbags and Patek Philippe watches and launched raids against counterfeiters nationwide, finance police said on Friday.

Italy’s fashion industry has long battled with counterfeiters who churn out low-quality copies of the upmarket clothes and accessories that contribute some 60 billion euros a year to its economy.

Fifteen people who ran websites are being investigated, prosecutors said at a news conference in Rome.

The raids were conducted in 11 cities, from Milan in the north to Palermo, the main city on the southern island of Sicily, as part of a broader crackdown on counterfeit goods.

Counterfeiting has “obvious negative effects on the economy, in terms of job losses, tax evasion, connections with organized crime, exploitation of minors, security, health and damage to consumers”, police said in a statement.

The finance police seized around 3 billion euros’ worth of counterfeit products in 2014.

Reporting by Isla Binnie and Mario Sarzanini; editing by Andrew Roche

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