The website, Alibaba.com, pirated images from a West Michigan business woman.
Grand Rapids Jewelry artist, Lisa Lehmann was a victim of counterfeit e-commerce.
PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) - During a conference call Wednesday, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow reinforced a plan calling for a federal investigation and detailing ways to protect small businesses from being victimized by counterfeiting of their products.
On December 12th, WZZM introduced its viewers to local jewelry artist. Lisa had recently discovered her Michigan-made products were for sale on a Chinese website.
Counterfeit commerce has gone global and is hurting many American businesses.
"The question going forward is what's happening here and how many more small businesses are actually having this happen and they don't even know about it," says Sen. Stabenow.
According to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2011 report, 15%-20% of all Chinese products are counterfeit.
These internet pirates recently victimized a business owner in West Michigan.
"They listed one of my designs as for sale on their website," says Lisa Lehmann, owner and artist of Studio Jewel in Grand Rapids.
The website, Alibaba.com, has since taken down Lehmann's products, but the products weren't the only images the rip-off artists used.
"They used every one of my photos, which I took two years ago, of my daughter modeling this product," says Lehmann.
Senator Stabenow stepped in after 13 On Your Side let her and other lawmakers know what happened to Lisa.
"We don't have anyone who's sole responsibility is to enforce our trade laws," Stabenow says.
Stabenow says Lisa Lehmann's story is forcing her to renew her call on Congress to pass her "American Competitiveness Plan," which includes provisions to crack down on counterfeiting and provide more enforcement tools -- including a new position of trade prosecutor.
"[A trade prosecutor] would be on the job 24-7 and that person's sole responsibility would be to make sure other countries are not stealing our ideas, our products, our innovations and costing us jobs," says Stabenow.
The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that Chinese counterfeiting costs the jobs of 2.1 million Americans and represents 8% ($470 billion) of China's entire gross domestic product.
"We have an international trade office and they spend most of their time negotiating new trade agreements," says Stabenow. "The problem is, the same people who negotiate the new trade agreements are also the people who are responsible for enforcing it and I think those two things should be separate."
Meantime, Lisa Lehmann says she's grateful for Senator Stabenow's willingness to stand up for her.
"It's impressive that they took a stand for wanting to be involved in everything," says Lehmann. "I think it's kind of nice to look at myself as a small person being supported in that kind of way."
Additional pieces to Stabenow's plan include upgrading the tools used by customs agents and creating an "offender watch list" which will be designed to keep close tabs on repeat offenders. If an individual's name appears on the offenders watch list more than three times, Stabenow wants that individual to be banned forever from being able to do any kind of business in the United States.