Growing black market costs state billions

February 29, 2012 5:29:33 PM PST
There is growing concern about a growing black market economy in California.

Lawmakers say it costs the state billions of dollars every year.

The State Board of Equalization says the counterfeiting has created a $60 billion underground economy. Now authorities want to expand law enforcement efforts to crack down on sales of fake products. The counterfeits are coming from overseas through California ports and sold at independent stores and flea markets. Fake products include: clothing, computers, jewelry and medicine.

"It's an organized criminal effort that starts off in foreign countries," said Jerome Horton from the State Board of Equalization.

Officials said fake medicines and cigarettes can pose a serious health risk to unwary consumers. And the underground economy costs the state $8 billion per year in lost tax revenue.

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