Christmas shoppers have been warned to be extra cautious when it comes to the purchasing of what could potentially be dangerous counterfeit goods. According to professional audit company, ‘KPMG’, in the past 2 years there have been almost 40 cases (39 in total) involving the purchase of £116m worth of counterfeit or fake goods. These have ranged from fake perfumes, fake hair straighteners, even fake e-books, all involved in several court cases in the UK.
These figures come shortly after PIPCU, the City of London (Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit) had launched their own campaign, using the hashtag #Shockingfakes, highlighting the dangers of purchasing counterfeit electrical goods. PIPCU mentioned that along with the obvious risk to health and safety, such as electrical fires and electrical shocks, there is also a risk of identity theft for those who purchase the dodgy goods online.
KPMG reported that some of the most prevalent pirated media they had identified had included the following: video games, music, eBooks as well as computer software. They stated that the reason for the rise in the sale of counterfeit goods is “consumers are seemingly driven by a hunger to maintain a designer lifestyle on a low-key budget”.
A forensic partner for KPMG, James Maycock, explained: “Consumers may often turn a blind eye or consider this a victimless crime, but this shadow economy activity often directly promotes money laundering and tax evasion. It can also help to fund other more serious organised criminal enterprises, including human trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism.”
A report by Electrical Safety First was pinpointed by the City of London Police unit, in which it was found that at least 30% of people surveyed had been tricked into buying a counterfeit electrical item online that had been advertised as legitimate. We previously mentioned how Electrical Safety First have also highlighted the growing issue in which pirate sellers are utilising big online retailers like Amazon or eBay as third-party sellers to trick people into buying their fake goods.
Police used a fire that had broken out earlier this year in some London flats leading to the evacuation of 20 people, as an example of the real-life implications of purchasing faulty electrical goods. This because the fire was said to be started by an unbranded phone charger. Meanwhile, even as recently as last week, PIPCU have successfully closed down 31,000 websites, this as part of an operation carried out by Europol, the EU’s agency for police cooperation, aimed at the reduction of counterfeit and or pirated items that are sold online.
PIPCU issued a statement urging the public to trust their instincts, expressing that “If an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is”.