According to the DOJ, in 2015, law enforcement seized approximately 600 Chinese-made counterfeit contact lenses that were being shipped to All About Ink, Gilliam’s Pensacola tattoo parlor. Subsequent tests by the FDA found that the contact lenses were not genuine, FDA-approved product, and were also contaminated with hazardous bacteria.
The Statement of Facts filed in Gilliam’s case describes how the Chinese shippers of the counterfeit contact lenses attempted to disguise the true nature of the package contents by describing the contents as “Sample of Art Movie” with a declared value of $20. When Customs and Border Patrol in Ohio inspected the package, they found it actually contained 600 Plano contact lenses along with separate packaging and labeling for “FreshLook Colorblends.” Law enforcement were able to confirm the lenses were counterfeit by showing photos of the confiscated contacts’ packaging to Freshlook contacts manufacturer, Novartis.
The Statement of Facts also describes how undercover agents went to Gilliam’s tattoo parlor to make purchases of contact lenses. Gilliam told the undercover agents that she had been selling contact lenses for years. Subsequent testing of the purchased lenses found that they too were contaminated with harmful bacteria.
HSI Tampa Deputy Special Agent in Charge Kevin D. Sibley explained the motivation behind this prosecution: “This criminal was selling substandard, dangerous counterfeit contact lenses with no regard for the health and safety of consumers. Our agents are committed to collaborating with partner agencies, like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Florida Department of Health, to conduct aggressive investigations into the distribution of fake goods that threaten the safety of our public.”