Europol cautions citizens: Counterfeit products can be potentially lethal

13 July 2011
Press Release
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This News/Press release is about Intellectual property crime

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The Hague

Worldwide counterfeit goods trade around US $200 billion a year

The counterfeit goods industry is estimated to be worth up to US $200 billion (source: OECD) and the goods produced cross every imaginable product sector, from dodgy DVDs, sunglasses and children’s toys, through to batteries, medicines and even pesticides.

Consumers are often tempted to buy fake goods as they usually cost less than the real thing, but many are unaware that counterfeit goods do not undergo the same rigorous testing that legitimate manufacturers apply to their products to ensure they are safe. The fake products are often poorly made, do not comply with European safety standards and could be potentially lethal.

With the growth in online shopping, counterfeit medication is a flourishing sector. However, a lot of the medicines sold online are fake and can have very serious health implications for the users, stemming from the lack, or excess, of active ingredients or dangerous substitutes.

Fake electronic goods that are produced using sub-standard parts and forged safety seals carry the risk of shocks, overheating and catching fire.

On top of this, the trade in counterfeit goods is spurring a rise in the number of sweat shops in the Far East, which are often ‘staffed’ by children who have little pay, no labour rights and a cruel work regime.

Europol are therefore publishing their latest public information product, to provide advice for EU consumers on the risks of buying counterfeit products. The leaflet (attached below) takes the reader through the issues concerned with buying counterfeits and details tips for spotting and avoiding fakes.

For those journalists who are interested, Europol experts in counterfeit products and payment card fraud will be available on Wednesday, 13 July in The Hague to give advice on their areas of expertise.

For full details of the event and registration requirements, please see the previously published Press Event Invitation on the Europol website.