Lindsay Castelli: Boutique owner, 31, arrested in $40M scam selling fake Gucci and other designer goods
LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK: A boutique owner got arrested in an alleged $40 million designer goods scam, manufacturing fake Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and other high-end labels. Lindsay Castelli, 31, was arrested on Friday, October 7 and now, faces a charge of second-degree trademark counterfeiting in the case.
The Nassau County Police Department said that during a search warrant on October 4 of Castelli’s store, Linny’s Boutique, the officials found 22 printing press machines and counterfeit items. Investigators said they began their investigation in April 2021, and found that she was executing this scam where she would buy inexpensive clothes from China and put fake designer labels on them. Police said that in one case, a $10 sweatshirt was sold for $5,000. The total value of the items seized was over $40 million, investigators said as per Fox 13.
Commenting on it, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference on Tuesday, October 11, "They would take a hat, a $3 hat, a 50-cent item on the site. They would heat seal it onto the hat and sell (the) hat for $300." Adding to this, Nassau County DA Anne Donnelly said, "This was a sophisticated operation. A storefront that you could have walked by hundreds of times and not realized what was in it was thousands and thousands of dollars of counterfeit goods."
In addition to owning a boutique, Castelli also allegedly ran the scam through a private Facebook group called Shop Linnys, which has around 5,000 members. Once approved to join, the shoppers were bombarded with statuses of what she claimed to be designer products while encouraging them to buy it, reports Bounce Nation.
Reacting to the bust, shopper Carole Rutkovsky said, "Totally betrayed, you go in expecting that you're buying as advertized, and that you're buying quality." On the other hand, some said they know when it's a knock off. "I think if you're shopping here in that kind of store you expect you're not buying a full real Gucci bag," one woman said, as quoted by CBS.
A trademark counterfeiting conviction is punishable by one to three years. Castelli, the mother of four, was released on a desk appearance ticket and is due back in court next month on November 2 at First District Court in Hempstead, reports Knews.