News25 Investigates


Counterfeit sneakers busting souls in Central Texas; how to know if your shoe is fake

Posted at 5:47 AM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-16 19:53:01-05

Sneakers are one of the most counterfeited products imported to the U.S.

In Central Texas, the impact affects people like Ryan Serrano, a sneaker re-seller since 2012 and owner of Hype Waco, a legitimate outlet that sells new and used sneakers.

"It's an issue," he told 25 Investigates. "There's quality differences. The shoe is definitely not going to last as long. [The] comfort's completely different. You're getting what you paid for, but there's a lot of people that don't understand that what they're buying is a fake shoe."

According to an article from GQ, counterfeit sneakers are a $450 billion dollar market worldwide. Footwear News says brands lose $1.3 billion dollars to influencer fraud every year, mainly, Serrano says, because the fakes are starting to look more genuine with every shipment.

"One of the easiest ways to tell is this little number right here," as he points to a small white box on the inside of a Nike sneaker. "You can type it into Google. You don't have to put Nike, you don't have to put anything, just type the number into Google. If it doesn't pull up on though or a reputable source, it's fake and that's the main problem."

The differences between fake and real might be subtle, such as labels, color, label placement, spelling and stitching.

During our interview with Ryan, he showed us one way consumers can check Nike brand sneakers to find out their authenticity.

"On any Jordan, you can see how it highlights all the threading. The fake pair, you take a blacklight to it. Underneath here is an outline of where the swoosh should be. On the fake pair, you'll be able to see that outline because they never match it up perfectly," he said.

One of the biggest problems reputable sellers like Ryan constantly battle is local counterfeiters targeting unsuspecting individuals online with places like Facebook Marketplace. Amy Rasor of the Better Business Bureau warns buyers who decide to go that route.

"The thing with Facebook, it's one of those things where it watches your algorithms, and so it knows the kinds of things you look for, and once you click one of them, you become more susceptible to receive more of those offers that could very well be fraudulent or not legitimate products," said Rasor.

For Ryan, warning people about red flags and what to look out for is important to building trust in the community he serves. He says if the shoes you're looking at doesn't have a box, or the box is beaten up from overseas shipping, don't buy it.

"If you're doing an exchange out on the street, I would love for you to meet here. The entire store is under surveillance, so it's a safety spot. Two, I'll legit check them for free. I don't want no money out of it. I just want people to understand and know that what they're getting is authentic," said Ryan.

For those that want to purchase fake sneakers, Ryan says you're not only contributing to a crime, but the shoes will be uncomfortable. For those that sell counterfeit sneakers and clothing?

"It's a first degree felony," he exclaims. "If you have a big stock of it, they're going to hit you harder because it's obviously with the intent to distribute just like if was drug paraphernalia or anything like that. It's similar to that."