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Stay safe from the dangers of illegal alcohol – it could kill you 

Fake vodka is sold illegally across the UK and, if consumed, can seriously affect your health.

It often contains toxic chemicals such as windscreen washer fluid, nail varnish remover, charcoal and bleach.

The criminals that sell this lethal chemical cocktail don’t care about your health. All they want to do is to make a profit. They may even deliberately target areas where young people or students live or socialise.

How can I stay safe?

There are a few things that you can do to make sure you stay safe from this dangerous crime.


Use the dropdown panels below to find out more.

How to spot fake vodka

It can be hard to know if a bottle of vodka is fake, but there are a few things that might make you question it. Is the drink a lot cheaper than you’d expect? Did someone try to sell it to you under the counter? Do you feel exceptionally unwell after drinking it?

Signs to spot fake vodka...

  • Spelling mistakes – fake bottles often have incorrectly spelt words and grammatical errors.
  • Poor quality labelling – fake bottles often have misaligned or badly printed labels.
  • Properly sealed bottle cap – never drink from a bottle without a properly sealed cap.
  • Duty paid sticker/stamp – spirits in 35cl bottles or larger must have a duty stamp. Some fake bottles carry counterfeit stickers, or do not have a sticker at all.
  • Fake barcodes – fake bottles often have fake barcodes. If in doubt, there are apps that can check a barcode’s authenticity.

What to look out for in fake vodka...

  • Smell – fake vodka often smells like nail varnish – never ever drink it if it smells like nail varnish.
  • Taste – fake vodka often tastes horrible.
  • Sediment – fake vodka can contain sediment – pure vodka should always be clear.


How to recognise if you’ve consumed fake vodka

If you feel particularly unwell after drinking vodka, it could be an indication of a fake bottle. If a number of people that have drunk vodka from the same bottle or at the same venue have similar symptoms, it’s likely that fake vodka is the cause.

When you’re out socialising with friends and at parties it can be hard to tell if that fruity punch you’re drinking is made up with fake alcohol or not. If you have any doubts about it you should report it to us anonymously.

More than a hangover
Consuming fake vodka can be lethal. The cocktail of harmful chemicals can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness, and dizziness. 

More severe cases include liver and kidney failure, coma, blindness, and death. 

If you or a friend feel ill, don’t hesitate - seek medical help straight away.

What to do if you have information
If you (or someone you know) have consumed fake vodka and have become unwell you should always seek medical advice immediately.

If you believe you or a friend have consumed any kind of counterfeit alcohol, or you suspect it is being sold in a particular shop, bar, or venue, report it 100% anonymously.

This is a free phone number and reporting service operated by Crimestoppers, open 24/7. We will never ask for your name, and your phone call or online report will never be traced.