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Counterfeit goods fraud

Counterfeit goods fraud involves goods passed off as originals which are actually fake.

Counterfeit goods include fake designer clothes, bags, accessories and perfumes as well as pirate DVDs, CDs and computer games.

Many counterfeit goods are sold at car boot sales, pubs, markets or fairs. This makes it difficult to trace the fraudster once you’ve bought from them.

Fake goods are also sold online, although auction sites such as eBay are doing their best to clamp down on counterfeiting and piracy.

Are you a victim of counterfeit goods fraud?

You’ve bought an item and discovered that it is not original or made by the brand it claims to be made by. The quality might well be inferior, which might make the product unusable or unsafe.

What should you do if you’ve been a victim of counterfeit goods fraud?

If you think you have been sold counterfeit goods, or if you suspect somebody is selling fake goods, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06. Your local Trading Standards office can also give you advice.

If you purchased an item you believed to be genuine but now believe it may be counterfeit you can report it to Action Fraud.

Your statutory rights apply if the goods you buy aren't satisfactory quality or are different from the seller's description. So, if you buy goods that are not as described, you might be entitled to a refund or an exchange of goods. Speak to Citizens Advice who can advise. However, counterfeit sellers aren’t easy to track down.

Why should you avoid counterfeit goods?

  • You’re helping the trader to break the law and many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organised crime.
  • Buying fake goods contributes to job losses because genuine manufacturers are unable to match prices charged by rogue traders. You’re also depriving the genuine manufacturers of any profit.
  • Some counterfeit goods may be substandard, possibly dangerous and may even contain hazardous substances.

Protect yourself against counterfeit goods fraud

  • If something seems too good to be true, eg a Rolex watch being sold for £10, it probably is. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re getting a great deal.
  • Always examine the quality of any goods you’re thinking of buying and check the labels to see if they are genuine. It’s often very easy to spot a fake as their labels may have spelling mistakes or other distinguishing marks.
  • Always ask the trader you’re buying from whether they offer an after-sales service, or a guarantee. Most rogue traders won’t.

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.