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Dunkin' Donuts Employs Cops to Sniff Out Fake Inventory

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Remember China’s fake Apple Store (AAPL)? Last year, obviously brilliant counterfeiters managed to create an entire store complete with authentic looking products, wooden tables, and employee badges. Initially, it looked like the fake was so successful that even it’s employees believed it, but that turned out to be untrue.

Well, apparently, iPads and iPhones aren’t the only thing worth faking. Online, there’s the insidious story of a fake YouTube (GOOG) used to target Syrian protesters. There have also been reports of Facebook (FB) page operators buying fake “Likes” for their products.

Offline, we have fake donuts.

Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN), along with many other fast food brands, employs a large number of investigators charged with making sure that franchisees sell the right products the right way. The company even has a forensic laboratory that can determine if a donut came from Dunkin’ or somewhere else.

ABC News quotes Michael Mershimer, the former head of loss prevention for Dunkin’ and Quiznos, saying that, “I used to be able to reach in and pull out a donut, and be able to smell and determine whether it was a Dunkin' Donut.” Major chains maintain a close watch over their franchisees both to ensure that product is consistent and to protect their share of the profits.

In the US, fast food companies employ around 300,000 food police. These brave men and women take apart different items and make sure that they are up to standards. Without them, a Big Mac (MCD) might come with ketchup instead of special sauce.

Tactics vary, but investigators do everything from nighttime stakeouts to dumpster searches. Basically, anything but wiretaps.

Some franchisees attempt to make extra money out of their operations without telling headquarters. According to Mershimer, some store owners even trade out cash registers to better under-report their earnings.

In general, major chains have no qualms about suing their operators for breach of contract. Franchisees normally receive legal warnings before being taken to court, but too many instances of improperly sauced burgers or under-cheesed sandwiches can lead to a lot of trouble.
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