Selling fake designer gear is a sure-fire way to make a big profit on cheap goods.
Are fake goods a big problem?
The Home Office recently warned shoppers against being duped into buying cheap fakes. In particular, GHD hair straighteners, Ugg boots and North Face coats, as well as children’s clothing and toys carrying images of Disney’s Frozen.
In the last six months alone, the authorities have seized £10 million worth of watches carrying fake Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Armani and Breitling branding, as well as baseball caps and Beats by Dr Dre headphones at Southampton docks, £1.9m worth of counterfeit beauty products, including Marc Jacobs, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gautier and MAC cosmetics, and Beats Pill speakers at Felixstowe port and 10,000 pairs of fake Nike trainers at Hull port.
James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, said: “Counterfeit goods leave customers out of pocket with inferior goods.
“We are determined to crack down on this criminality and have officers working 24 hours a day at ports, airports and mail sorting centres to identify these products before they can reach people’s homes.”
How to spot a fake
Despite efforts, millions of people are still ripped off every year.
If you know a brand well, you might spot a fake before you press the order button. But fakes are getting harder to spot, which means we must pull out all the stops to spot a fake before we hit 'pay'.
There are tell tale signs to look out for, such as the most obvious, which is, if the price appears too good to be true, it probably is.
Spelling mistakes on descriptions, packaging and blurred, low quality photographs mean the retailer may not be of the quality it claims.
Once you have the item, check for shoddy stitching or craftmenship, as well as guarantees and instruction manuals.
What to do if you suspect you have bought a fake
If you've found a counterfeit item on eBay, report it to the seller first. If it's an item they've bought themselves, they might not be aware it's a fake.
If the seller won’t resolve your complaint, you can raise a dispute through the eBay Buyer Protection process. You can also report counterfeit items on the item's listing, by scrolling to the bottom and clicking on the 'report item' link.
Anyone who has been sold counterfeit goods or knows someone who is selling them should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
You can also report a company or fake product to Trading Standards, by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
Getting your money back
By handing over payments details on a website that deals in fakes, you could essentially be giving your card details to a criminal, which means a refund might be tricky.
However, when you buy goods or services on your credit or debit card you have extra protection if things go wrong.
Payments of between £100 and £30,000 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which states that card companies are jointly and severally liable.
If you bought something costing less than £100, or used your debit card, you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction using “chargeback”. So if the seller refuses a refund, you may still be able to recoup your money.