Last year alone, there were 2000 successful investigations: customs seizures, cease-and-desist declarations or raids resulted in forged Mercedes-Benz products being confiscated. In addition to Stiefel’s 15-strong team, more than 100 external lawyers and investigators are employed to combat the fraudsters.
But brand piracy usually involves only medium-sized fish. Occasionally, though, they also catch a major player: when Arab authorities carried out a large-scale raid on a warehouse in Dubai in the presence of the Brand Protection team early last year, for example, they unearthed more than a million forged car parts, including 123,000 destined to be sold as Mercedes-Benz accessories. It took more than 10 trucks to remove the potentially dangerous goods.