It’s estimated that around 7% of all global trade conducted consists of counterfeit goods, as fraudsters and criminal operations aim to capitalise on the popularity of certain products with cheaper reproductions.
Not only do these fake products pose financial implications for brand owners losing out on legitimate sales, but counterfeit consumer goods or electricals are unlikely to meet safety standards if poor quality materials are paired with cost-cutting productions techniques.
Consumer groups advise shoppers to be wary of fake products, particularly when shopping online, as if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
New stories of counterfeit products are constantly emerging each week as authorities struggle to keep up with production rings, so here are three recent cases to be aware of...
Arsenic and lead found in knock-off make-up products
Sales in the beauty industry in the UK broke the £4 billion mark in 2016 and the increasing demand for big-name brands promoted by social influencers means this trend shows no sign of slowing.
Now consumer groups are warning of the dangers of purchasing fake makeup products from the booming black market, both online and on traditional market stalls, as they could contain toxins including lead, mercury, cyanide and arsenic.
Users of the fake products interviewed by ITV News reported they’d suffered from eye infections, skin rashes, burns and swelling after buying knock-off versions of brands such as MAC, Kylie Jenner and Anastasia Beverly Hills for up to 75% less than the usual ticket price.
Amazon accused of listing fake car parts
At the end of October, Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, filed a lawsuit against Amazon claiming that the e-commerce website was selling and distributing counterfeit Merc products, specifically, wheel caps.
Whilst such cases usually target third party Marketplace sellers, and result in the listing (and seller) being removed from the platform, the claimants argue that as the product page states “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” then it’s Amazon acting as the direct seller and shipper.
It’s unclear what the lawsuit will result in for either party, but it acts as good reminder that it’s not just the black market and dark web that can be pathways for counterfeit products to make their way to unsuspecting customers.
Counterfeit whiskey results in multiple illnesses
22 people were left with more than just a hangover after consuming two brands of whiskey called ‘Flylions’ and ‘Faliya’ at a bar in Heyuan in the southern province of Guangdong.
The labels on the bottles claimed to be produced by Penglai Weiyade Wine, who have since denied any knowledge of the two brews, adding that the incident has harmed the company’s reputation.
Four arrests were made and 190 cases of the counterfeit beverages were confiscated by local authorities after the China Food and Drug Administration confirmed the bottles were mixed with methanol, which in serious cases can damage the nervous system and cause issues with vision.
Holograms, watermarks and other standard anti-counterfeit techniques are commonplace on consumer goods but can be swiftly and easily mimicked by fraudsters.
Verimaster anti-counterfeit additives incorporated into plastics, polymers, coatings, papers or textiles can provide instant visual or audio verification to protect against counterfeit activity or incorrect production techniques.
This means makeup boxes, car parts or drinks labels can all be manufactured with Verimaster to verify that no tampering or falsification has taken place.