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Tabor City, NC – After receiving several citizen complaints about someone selling counterfeit items in Whiteville, the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Criminal Investigative Unit initiated an investigation. The investigation led to the arrest of one individual.

On Monday, August 20th, after receiving an anonymous tip, CCSO Criminal Investigators traveled to the public vehicular area of Big Lots in Whiteville. They observed the defendant, Carroll Ann Barnes, meeting numerous individuals to exchange items. Criminal Investigators approached the defendant at her vehicle and observed several totes and boxes of items inside of the vehicle. The quantity of items in her possession exceeded what the average person would sell on a buy, sell, trade site. CCSO Criminal Investigators seized all of the items for further investigation.

During the investigation, CCSO Investigators learned that Barnes had an online business where she received orders for items through a Facebook page. The items on her page were represented as trademarked items such as Rainbow sandals, Beats headphones, Michael Kors purses, Oakley sunglasses, etc.

The Facebook page was a closed group, meaning a potential customer would have to be accepted to the page by the admins of the group. Barnes would advertise a specific “buy” or item with a closing date. The “buys” would run for approximately two weeks and would have a minimum order quantity. If the minimum order quantity was met by the closing date, the defendant would then order the items from overseas. When the items arrived, she would meet her customers in public parking lots in Tabor City and Whiteville, NC and in Loris, SC to deliver their purchases on predetermined delivery days. The customers prepaid for their items using PayPal. Customers would wait weeks for their packages to be delivered. Her Facebook page advised that purchases might take 6-8 weeks to arrive.

Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigators requested the assistance of the NC Department of the Secretary of State Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force. After careful examination of each one of the over one hundred and ninety (190) seized items, it was determined that the items were indeed counterfeit. The NC Department of the Secretary of State Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force determined the retail value of the seized items to exceed $18,500.00.

On August 27, 2018, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Unit arrested Carroll Ann Barnes for the criminal use of counterfeit trademarks. This investigation is ongoing and additional charges are forthcoming.

Barnes, of 1441 Wright Road, Tabor City,  is charged with one felony count of criminal use of counterfeit trademarks. She was placed in the Columbus County Detention Center under a $20,000 unsecured bond.

“I would like to thank the concerned citizens that contacted our office concerning this matter. This is a serious crime that impacts all local retailers. Selling large quantities of counterfeit items that only one or two local retail establishments sale, negatively impacts Columbus County’s economy. I also want to thank the NC Department of the Secretary of State Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force for their assistance in this investigation. I appreciate the time and resources you provided my agency during this investigation,” said Sheriff Lewis Hatcher.