There has been a massive increase in the number of fake goods crowding our high streets and filling social media pages. This may seem like a innocent purchase but could not only be a risk for you, but fund slavery, drugs and arms smuggling.
The counterfeit industry is worth a staggering 384 billion pounds. With an increase to the online counterfeit world, official figures suggest fakes now account for 3.3% of global trade. Many say social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook are powering this growth in illegal goods.
The analytics group Ghost Data have revealed there has been a 171% rise in the number of Instagram accounts offering fake items since 2016 to an astounding 56,759. The hashtag #replica has been used over 2 million times.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of smaller parcels; they accounted for 69% of all goods seized from 2014 to 2016, which has been linked to the increase of online sales of door to door deliveries. Not only can you pick up the latest fake handbags, shoes and watches at your local market, you can now sit in your own living room and order the latest goods to your door.
Consumers do not realise the risks they are putting themselves and others under when purchasing a fake item. Alastair Gray a counterfeit investigator has revealed the dangers of buying a fake item could possibly be funding an organised crime group or possibly even terrorism.
In 2014, two French brothers Said and Cherif Kouachin were on the terror watch list and under surveillance by French security forces. In June, the security picked up that Cherif Kouachin was buying fake trainers from China. The security’s attention was focused on this and this led them to believe the brothers were no longer a threat. Just seven months later the two brothers killed 12 and injured 11 during the Charlie Hebdo magazine attack. The selling of the counterfeit trainers funded the guns for the attack.
Consumer are unaware of this long term effect when buying a 10 euro pair of sunglasses whilst on holiday or a fake watch from Facebook’s marketplace.
With nearly 7% of all goods imported into the European Union being counterfeit and with mirror money revealing 1 in 3 of us have brought fake goods online unintentionally, it does not come as a surprise that so many consumers are being caught out by the fakes. When buying a fake, not only are you supporting some shady behaviour, but you might be more than disappointed with the quality and likeliness of your product.
45-year-old Linda Taylor purchased a Burberry bag from Facebook’s marketplace for £150. Buying was simple, but when the bag arrived she was astounded to realise it was in fact fake and looked nothing like the images she had originally seen online. “The sellers page had loads of five star reviews, looking back now I should have realised everything on her page is fake”. When contacting Facebook, they apologised and explained there was nothing they could do and simply asked Linda to fill out a form in order to report her case. Citizens advice had over 13,000 problems reported to them in the last year in regards to purchases from online marketplaces.
To report counterfeit goods, contact your local trading standards office or call Consumer Direct on 08454040506.