Kim Sbarcea knew exactly what she wanted. She typed "Tiffany Elsa Peretti mesh earrings" into Google and chanced upon a pair of the $450 earrings for - deal of deals! - $32.
The website, called tiffany-outletsale.com, looked legit. She hit the buy button.
In that instant, Sbarcea's money was sucked from her house in Christchurch, New Zealand, into the global counterfeiting market, where Chinese banks have emerged as key conduits in an illegal industry estimated to be worth $1.8 trillion this year.
At least three prominent Chinese banks serve as safe havens for counterfeiters, who use them to process credit card payments or move their money around the globe, The Associated Press has found.
A review of hundreds of pages of court documents - along with interviews with lawyers, investigators, government officials and industry groups - shows that a lack of legal cooperation between the West and China is allowing counterfeiters to use Chinese banks as financial shelters.
Text: Erika Kinetz, Associated Press