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Don’t be fooled by those on-line fakes 1 December 2008

Counterfeiters gear up for Christmas just like legitimate traders warns the OFT. The bargains they appear to offer are not just a rip-off but could also be harmful, particularly to young children.

In the run–up to Christmas 2007 fake jewellery and clothing valued at over £1m were seized in a single day by trading standards officers from West End shops in central London. At the same time trading standards officers in Blackpool carried out a series of raids on seafront stores selling a number of fake toys. Dozens of dodgy Doctor Who, Spiderman and Dora the Explorer goods were seized in the raids.

Trading standards officers in the Isle of Man have successfully removed significant quantities of counterfeit goods from the local market over the past few years. Items include mobile ‘phone covers and accessories, sportswear and designer goods such as perfumes and handbags.

But nowadays it’s not just the “real” markets and car boot sales which pose a threat – more people than ever before are buying their Christmas presents on the Internet, a prime source of fakes. This global and virtual car boot sale is now a huge market for fake goods of all kinds and is almost impossible to police.

  • Around £45 billion of sales online in 2006 were of counterfeit goods
  • £84 million was spent in the UK online on Christmas Day 2007
  • 20% of all shopping is now done online

Other kinds of dangerous fakes on sale at Christmas include:

  • Fake batteries
  • Fake perfumes, which could be harmful to the skin
  • Children’s clothes that are not safety-tested for flammability
  • Electrical hair styling products containing fake fuses and plugs that are dangerous
  • Fake “designer” sunglasses that may not offer protection against UV rays
  • Counterfeit alcohol and cigarettes

Chairman of the OFT Bill Henderson MHK commented “Consumers sometimes believe that counterfeit goods are good value but they can pose a range of problems. Often difficult to detect from the real thing, counterfeit goods have the potential to be dangerous. They also pose a threat to local businesses who cannot supply genuine goods at the same low prices as the counterfeit ones. My advice would be to buy from reputable retailers preferably locally as this allows the OFT to deal directly with any concerns you may have about the quality of the goods you buy. Remember if it looks too good to be true then it most probably is.”

Further information on identifying fake goods can be found on the OFT website www.gov.im/oft

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