Saturday, November 10, 2012

The case of the ketchup counterfeiters

You might have seen the story about the Canadian maple syrup thieves earlier, and thought "that's the weirdest crime story I'll see all year!" And how wrong you'd be! From Yahoo:

"Officials discovered the fake ketchup factory after tenants complained about flies and rotten odors coming from another part of the 7,000-square-foot warehouse in Dover, N.J. They found thousands of plastic bottles labeled Heinz ketchup, many of which had exploded after being abandoned in the hot building.

"Heinz representatives say that they think someone bought large containers of regular Heinz Ketchup and poured it into bottles labeled 'Simply Heinz,' a higher-priced product made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. Late Friday, they reached out to reassure consumers, saying that it was unlikely the counterfeit condiment ended up on store shelves."

Wait... so this makes money? That's your master criminal plan? You'd think even a villain on Batman would have come up with a slightly grander scheme. But in fact, counterfeit foods are a common enough crime scheme to warrant the involvement of organized crime. From this Daily Finance article:

"Most of those counterfeiters are small-scale operators. However, there have been reports of a few large operations that include bottling equipment and printing machines, and which produce their own raw, poor-quality alcohol, which is placed in replicated bottles of premium brands. These businesses, which sometimes span international borders, are almost always linked to organized crime."

Now, high-end scotch where it goes for $80 a bottle or so, you could see. There's at least a profit margin there. What's the gain on ketchup, ten cents a bottle?