WASHINGTON - If you are into fashion, you know a trendy designer handbag can cost thousands of dollars. A Virginia woman who cashed in on shoppers looking for the latest bag was caught orchestrating an elaborate counterfeit purse scheme and she is now heading to prison.
Investigators say Praepitcha Smatsorabudh targeted dozens of department stores around the country such as T.J. Maxx and Neiman Marcus with her handbag scam. Court documents show Smatsorabudh defrauded the stores of more than $400,000 in total.
She pleaded guilty to wire fraud in August and now has been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
Court documents state Smatsorabudh bought brand name purses online and then returned counterfeit purses in their place. The counterfeit bags were smuggled into the country from China.
She then sold the authentic bags on Instagram and eBay for more than $2,000 each. To avoid getting caught, she used multiple credit cards and returned the counterfeit bags in place of the legitimate ones at over 60 department store locations in 12 states.
Those who bought bags from Smatsorabudh had a lot to say about their experiences on a forum titled "BUYER BEWARE" on the PurseForum website. There are pages of complaints from people who said the bags they purchased from her seller name "Richgirlscollection" were also discovered to be fake.
Smatsorabudh was also sentenced to three years supervised release and has been ordered to pay back over $400,000 to the department stores and the same amount to her victims.