development and advertising when one can simply trade off the reputation built and sustained by the brand’s legitimate manufacturer. And then there’s the gray market in which branded products made for distribution in other countries are imported and sold in the United States. Here, too, the gray marketer trades on, or perhaps more accurately descriptive, free rides on the efforts of the brand’s legitimate distributor, avoiding all those nasty expenses such as advertising that would ordinarily be incurred. This market flourishes when there are extreme fluctuations in currencies from one country to another and a product can be purchased in local currency with lesser dollars than its price in the United States.

This practice is known as “arbitrage,” the purchase and sale of the same product in different markets to profit from unequal prices. Aside from potential harm to the consumer from defective merchandise or banned ingredients—the gray market encompasses all types of brand name products such as watches, cameras, cars, beverages, toiletries—it provides a convenient vehicle to launder illegally obtained funds, and that is a serious criminal activity. Dealing with counterfeiting and the gray market brought me in contact with private security firms of a former FBI agent and a U.S. Senate investigator, the FBI, U.S. Customs officials, Senators, Representatives, and the Justice Department.