Buying counterfeit branded products can have serious consequences

Have you ever been tempted to buy a “Louis Vuitton” bag or “Tom Ford” sunglasses from a beach vendor?

I think we’ve all been in this position at some point, especially if you’ve traveled to popular sun holiday destinations where counterfeit goods are a big business for street vendors and merchants.

However, while it can be very tempting to buy a bag or heels that look like the real deal for a fraction of the price they actually cost, it’s actually a very bad idea, warns the Centers Network European consumers.

“A counterfeit copy is usually cheap but can end up costing you much more in the long run,” the ECCN said.warns before summer vacation trips.

“In many countries, the laws against counterfeit products are tough. And in some European countries, you can be fined up to €10,000, not only if you buy a counterfeit product, but also if you bring him into the country.”

A million dollar business with serious consequences

According to the latest Intellectual Property Crime Threat Assessment, carried out by Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) last year, around 66 million counterfeit and pirated products have been seized in the EU in 2020.

And while counterfeit bags and fashion items are a thing, the ECCN warns that when it comes to fake versions of well-known beauty products, perfumes and even medicines, there is a real danger, because many of them contain ingredients that are neither regulated nor approved for safety in the EU.

“Many counterfeit products do not comply with applicable safety requirements and can be immediately dangerous.”

This also applies to counterfeit toys and products for babies and children, many of which do not comply with applicable safety requirements and can be immediately dangerous.

The CEC recalls:

“Ask yourself, ‘Is this fake toy for your little girl toxic-free? Are you sure your fake battery won’t explode when you use it?’ If toys break easily or lose small parts, they can be deadly to children.”

The report says intellectual property (IP) crime continues to pose a “substantial threat” to the health and safety of EU consumers, and estimates that €119 billion worth of proceeds involving this type of crime were imported into the EU in 2019.

Creates a demand for child labor

Another major problem with buying counterfeit products is that you don’t know anything about how they were produced, where they were made, who made them, and what the conditions were for the workers involved.

According to the US-based Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade, “one of the worst crimes associated with illicit trade is the demand it creates for forced labor and children to perform counterfeit manufacturing tasks.”

In a report last year, it was noted that the phenomenon of counterfeiting was far from being a victimless crime.

“As the large number of cases of forced labor in counterfeit clothing, shoes and luxury goods show, the use of forced labor is a pervasive problem in both the manufacturing and selling of goods.”

The report adds:

“Similarly, the manufacture and sale of counterfeit electronics is also a sector where forced laborers are abused by organized criminals, with serious human rights consequences.”

How to recognize counterfeit products

According to RTÉ, the most obvious clues when it comes to spotting counterfeit goods are location and price – as in, if a Hermes Birkin handbag is being sold cheaply on a beach or at a market in street, then obviously it’s not the real deal.

“The counterfeit product may end up costing more than the genuine product if you are forced to pay fines,” says the ECCN.

Other signs that a product is fake include substandard stitching and tags. The interior must be made with the same care as the exterior.

The ECCN advises people to read the laundry instructions label carefully – the text of counterfeit products is often misspelled.

“If in doubt, ask where the product was made and keep a receipt.”