Awareness campaign on online counterfeiting

Public awareness and prevention
How-to guide

The Internet has become an essential channel for e-commerce. Its instant global reach and anonymity make it possible to sell nearly anything to anyone at any time. Counterfeiters know it and are increasingly exploiting the unlimited opportunities offered by the World Wide Web. Fake products such as clothing, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, electronics or automotive parts, can be easily found online at a cheaper price than the original ones.

Despite these products looking like a bargain, they pose serious risks to your safety and health. Learning how to identify these scam websites selling counterfeit goods is vital to protect yourself and those around you from this growing threat!

The quality of counterfeit products seems to be improving, the products now looking like exact copies of the original brand. There are a growing number of online B2B exchanges and e-commerce sites offering these products, many advertised via social media and search engines. Counterfeiters have become smarter at promoting these fakes and use advanced marketing techniques such as paid search ads, search engine optimisation, unsolicited emails or the use of branded terms in domain names.

When shopping online, you are more likely to fall victim to counterfeiters. In a digital environment, without the physical product to look at and feel, it can be more difficult for you to spot the differences. Some illicit websites selling counterfeits are so sophisticated that it is hard to detect that they are scams. Infringers are also exploiting mobile app stores as an ideal shop front. Again, users are less likely to question the legitimacy of an app, especially if it appears in an official app store.

Every time you buy fake products you are wasting your money away on poor quality copies that can be very dangerous for your health and safety, and those of the ones around you. The damage these sales do to brands, businesses and economies goes beyond revenues: profits from counterfeiting fund other forms of serious organised crime like human trafficking, money laundering or labour exploitation, and its production factories violate in most cases labour and environmental laws and basic human rights.

The best way not to F***(ake) Up and put an end to the fast-growing market of counterfeit products sold on the Internet is to stop buying counterfeit goods online.

Intellectual Property crime: most commonly affected sectors.
Be cautious when buying them online!

  • Manufacturing
  • Consumer goods
  • Technology
  • Software
  • Biotechnology, including pharmaceuticals.

Don’t F***(ake) Up! Don’t put at risk your health and safety!

These products are made without regard to the health and safety standards applicable on the EU market. Some consumer goods might contain harmful substances and toxic levels of chemicals that can result in heart attack, coma or even death.

When you buy fakes:

You are putting at risk your health and safety and those of the ones around you

These products are made without regard to the health and safety standards applicable on the EU market. Some consumer goods might contain harmful substances and toxic levels of chemicals that can result in heart attack, coma or even death.

You are risking your money and personal details

By browsing these illicit websites you are exposing your computer or mobile device to cyber-attacks like phishing or malware. Your personal information and card details may be compromised and used by the criminals for other fraudulent scams.

Learn more about phishing and malware

You are depriving yourself and others of better public services and more jobs

Counterfeiting cause substantial losses to legitimate brands and businesses, sometimes even leading to bankruptcy. This can result in job losses as genuine manufactures are forced to reduce costs or close down their businesses. In turn, this can negatively affect governments and economies. Counterfeiters do not pay taxes, which means less money for your city’s schools, hospitals, parks and other social programmes.

You are funding organised crime

Many criminals use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods online to fund other types of serious organised crime such as human trafficking, money laundering or labour exploitation. Counterfeit products are often produced in un-sanitised and un-hygienic factories run by organised crime that violate labour laws, basic human rights, and environmental laws. Many workers, including children, are coerced through a form of modern-day slavery.

The Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3)

Fighting the trade of counterfeit products online is a challenging and difficult task. Safeguarding consumers against dangerous and substandard products and tackling the criminal networks involved in these low risk/high revenue illegal activities is a key priority for law enforcement.
To strengthen the fight against counterfeiting and piracy online and offline, Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) joined forces to launch in July 2016 the Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3).