Posted on Thursday 12th December 2019
Tony Shore, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council with counterfeit items seized by Staffordshire Trading Standards including alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes and children’s toys
Staffordshire bargain hunters are being urged to be aware of counterfeit goods when shopping in the run up to Christmas.
The warning, from Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team is reminding people that counterfeit items could be offered to them at local markets, on social network websites and online.
Counterfeit goods are often poor quality imitations that will leave people out of pocket and could also be harmful to their health. Legitimate traders also suffer as a result of counterfeit sales; harming the local economy in the process. Money made also goes into the pockets of organised criminal gangs.
Over the last few years Staffordshire's Trading Standards officers have seized millions of pounds of fake goods. Popular fakes include clothing, sportswear, headphones, toiletries, cosmetics, children’s toys, alcohol and tobacco.
Tony Shore, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council said:
“The run up to Christmas is always a busy time for shoppers and a popular time for market events and online sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But it’s also a busy time for counterfeiters.
“We’re now reminding people to be on their guard for counterfeit items. Fakes are increasingly hard to detect just to look at, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. We always say that if something is too good to be true, it usually is.
“Anyone who buys counterfeit goods will land themselves with poor quality and possibly dangerous goods while helping line criminals’ pockets. We want to protect the public and legitimate business and we will continue our fight against counterfeiters.”
Through the proceeds of crime law, Trading Standards teams have also managed to seize assets and money from those successfully prosecuted. The money is then used to fund local crime fighting operations and to seize more illegal goods.
To avoid counterfeit goods, consumers should also look out for the "3 P's":
• PRICE: If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
• PACKAGING: If the product is being sold without its packaging, or the packaging appears to be of low quality, or includes printing errors (for example, blurry pictures, typos, spelling or grammatical errors) it is probably counterfeit.
• PLACE: Consider where the product is being sold. If it’s in-store, ask yourself if you would normally expect to find the product sold in this type of environment. Deal only with legitimate, established retailers. If buying online, counterfeiters often steal pictures and formatting from the real websites to make their websites look legitimate, so don't be fooled by a professional-looking website.
If you find typos, grammatical and spelling errors, or incomplete information, then the site is probably fake. To report counterfeit goods sales call the anonymous Staffordshire Fight the Fakes line on 01785 330356.
Some of the hidden dangers of counterfeit goods include:
- Counterfeit alcohol such as vodka contains dangerous chemicals which can cause many health problems such as blindness
- Counterfeit perfume can often burn skin or leave a nasty rash and may contain lead
- Fake sunglasses often offer no UVA protection, causing eye damage
- Fake tobacco often contains unknown chemicals
- Counterfeit children's toys can often be unsafe with unsuitable small parts and children's clothes may be inflammable.