Thailand is famous for knock-offs. I bought the complete collection of STAR TREK DVDs for less than $100. The cost in the States would have been over $1000. My guilt was assuaged by the savings, especially since the money goes to the copyright holders and not Gene Roddenberry, the creater of STAR TREK.
Throughout the 00s I used the same logic to rationalized my internet sales of F1 merchandise. My website was #1 on Google for Ferrari shirts and various other articles of interest for motorheads, although this ranking resulted in a good business, but not great as the dollar plummeted from 40 baht to 31.
I took risks to increase my profits. I shipped the merchandise from the PO. I kept the shirts at my house. My downfall came from greed. I met with several Italians about producing shirts for them. They came from Ferrari's hometown. It was obvious that they were from the sports cars' investigative arm. I gave them an alias and said that I didn't do wholesale that big. This subterfuge kept them off my trail for several months. Business continued to slip and a customer in Texas placed several orders, then announced that he had burned his credit card. He asked if he could send the money via Western Union. It was for $500. I needed the money and said yes using my real name.
Stupid, because the customer worked for Quantico LLD a private investigation firm in Bangkok.
A month later a min-van pulled up to my house and 10 police surrounded me.
Bangkok cops from the cyber-crime unit.
The cops busted me for possession of twenty shirts.
Two farangs supervised the closing of my site and I locked up my house for processing in Bangkok. I was worried about my prospects. I had just sh ipped $5000 worth of merchandise. My bank account was wiped out and I began to wonder what spending a week in jail would be like, however they never cuffed my wrists or took away my telephone. In fact they stopped on the motorway to order me a #3 dinner from KFC.
At the police station I was put into an A/Ced office. The police asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I picked out THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Two cops watched it and I explained how Clint Eastwood was a bad hero. After process I was taken upstairs to be filmed by the national TV.
Thousands of shirts were piled against the wall. The police colonel said they were mine in Thai. I coughed and said that he must be mistaken. He looked at me and smiled conveying that this was no mistake and no problem either. These shirts belonged to someone big.
I was taking the fall for him.
Another policeman whispered, "Not worry. This only cost you $100."
I wasn't used to trust a cop, but he took care of me. I made bail and went home that evening.
Ferrari was safe from the ravages of my website. Thai honor was redeemed and I was out on bail. I went drinking with my Bangkok friend. He was a cop. A good one. They always are when they're your friends.
And I've learned my lesson.
Crime doesn't pay unless it pays good.