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French police seize $22.7 million in fake Hermes, arrest former Hermes employees

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PARIS - French police say they've broken up a sophisticated counterfeiting ring, arresting 12 people and recovering $22.7 million in fake Hermes products.

Police said the suspects were arrested in Paris and Lyon on Thursday, and included two former Hermes employees. As part of the operation, police also seized money from bank accounts in Hong Kong and Cyprus.

The arrests came after Hermes lodged a complaint last year that its handbags and leather goods were being pirated.

Although a global phenomenon, counterfeiting is especially rampant in France, the capital of the luxury and cosmetics industries, which employs some 131,000 people, and is home to the world's premier fashion shows.

The national anti-counterfeiting committee estimates pirated goods cost French industry $7.46 billion a year and between 30,000 and 40,000 jobs.

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