U.S. Attorney William Hochul, whose office is prosecuting the lone arrest made in the investigation, said consumers "particularly on days such as today, need to be aware that when they go online to make purchases, such purchases can come with risks."
The arrested person, Gary Hammer, was charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, accused of producing and selling counterfeit Microsoft software on Craigslist. He is due in federal court Dec. 12 after pleading not guilty at an initial appearance last week.
Reached by phone Monday, Hammer, of suburban Cheektowaga, denied he'd done anything wrong and called the case "a big misunderstanding." He said he rebuilds and recycles computers and has occasionally sold what he assumed to be genuine software obtained in trades, given to him or discarded.
"I would never willingly defraud anyone. I would never do that," Hammer said. "I live by high standards."
Authorities offered tips for consumers to avoid counterfeit merchandise, advising against buying goods that seem to be priced too low or have been offered through a bulk emailing.
"A lot of these sites are made up to look like the actual thing but grammar's incorrect a lot of times and prices are well below what they should be," HSI special agent Nicholas Peruzzini said. "It's not tough to tell you're dealing with counterfeit sites."
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