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Buying fakes funds crime and supports criminals. It also puts you at risk of harm and identity theft.

Fake DVDs- UK audiovisual industries are losing £500m a year due to copyright theft, equating to a total economic loss to the UK economy of £1.2bn

Fake Fashion- Fake fashion funds crimes including prostitution, drugs and weapons smuggling.

Fake Money- Criminals who make and sell fake money benefit at your expense.

Fake Tobacco- Fake cigarettes and tobacco are made by criminals and often contain excessive levels of tar and nicotine.

Fakes fund crime

Counterfeits and crime: Counterfeiters make many different types of fakes.

One thing these producers have in common is that they are all criminals. Organised gangs are increasingly pursuing several different criminal activities at the same time and using the proceeds from each form of crime to invest in the others.

Producing fakes is a crime in itself, but counterfeiting is also sometimes linked to other types of crime including:

  • Human trafficking
  • Gun and weapon possession
  • Drugs
  • Money laundering
  • Benefit fraud
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Tempted to buy fake?

If you buy fakes, the money you spend on them is likely to benefit criminal gangs and could damage the neighbourhood you live in.

Fake goods harm you

Counterfeiters don’t limit themselves to fake designer handbags and clothing. Electrical products, power tools, food, toys and sports equipment are also faked with potentially dangerous consequences for you as a consumer.

Fake goods are both imported and made here in the UK. Domestic production often takes place in rented office buildings that have been converted into makeshift ‘factories’. The conditions in these factories are often unsafe and unhygienic – this makes the production of fakes dangerous for not only workers but also the end user.

Fake alcohol- Fake alcohol can contain methanol, a chemical that can cause blindness, coma and death. Counterfeit bottles of alcohol often imitate well-known brands in an attempt to reassure people that the product is safe. 

Fake beauty products- Fake beauty products often contain sub-standard ingredients that could give you a rash or an allergic reaction. Some bottles of fake perfume have even been found to use ingredients like urine as a stabiliser. Look out for products sold in packaging featuring spelling or grammatical mistakes. Always buy your beauty products from a trusted source to help keep you safe from fakes.

Fake electronics- Electrical goods sold in the UK are subject to stringent safety testing. Counterfeit electrical goods often sidestep these testing requirements. This means fake electrical goods, including hair straighteners, mobile phones and camera chargers, may contain unsafe wiring that can lead to over-heating, creating risks of fire, electrocution and personal injury. Fake electrical goods may even be labelled with fake certification marks, so you think that they are safe.

Fake toys- Children’s toys are subject to strict safety testing. Counterfeit toys often will not have been tested. As a result fakes could contain small parts that are a choking hazard.

Identity theft and credit card fraud: Entering your debit or credit card details into a website that deals in fakes means that you are essentially giving your card details, your address and your name to criminals. To ensure your card details remain safe, make sure that you only buy goods online from authorised retailers.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS- If you buy online from businesses registered in the UK you are legally entitled to return any goods bought within seven days (even if you just change your mind). You are also entitled to return the goods if they are faulty. If you buy an item and realise it’s a fake, getting a refund can be difficult. Often fakes are sold through websites based outside UK; these websites aren’t subject to the same laws as sites based here.

SHOPPING ONLINE- If you are going to shop online: Buying from companies registered in the UK can help keep you safe as you’ll have more legal rights. Try and buy from a brand’s official website or from an authorised seller of the product. ‘https’ on the web site address means the site is secure - the ‘s’ in https  stands for secure. The padlock on the payment screen is also a mark of security. Just because a URL ends in .co.uk doesn’t mean the business is registered in the UK. Search web addresses using Who Is – a database of who owns what domain names and where they are based or go to the UK’s register of domain names at www.nominet.org.uk.  You can also click on ‘Howard’ the Online Shopping Assistant at www.ukecc.net. Always take a copy of the web pages and keep any correspondence as evidence, either electronically or on paper. Using a credit card for payments over £100 will also provide extra security.