Easy distribution, low risk and quick profits for counterfeiters
There are plenty of fake goods – glitzy name brand products worn by the not-to secure person, but what's the harm? Plenty, says Craig Crosby, founder of the consumer protection website The Counterfeit Report®
(www.theCounterfeitReport.com). An avalanche of visually deceptive counterfeit products is a funding a global criminal enterprise that will soon exceed $1.5 trillion. "More than likely, it's going to finance some other illicit activity, whether it be terrorism, human trafficking, drugs or some such," says Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") supervisor Bryan Nahodil. Counterfeiting is hard to prosecute, profitable and easily distributed through internet resources, eBay, Amazon, Craig's List, retail websites and local stores.
That counterfeit Rolex watch or designer handbag slung casually over the shoulder now represents only a fraction of an estimated 750,000 lost American jobs, and a cost to US businesses over $250 Billion annually. Illegal counterfeiting is a successful global criminal enterprise; profitable, difficult to track, un-taxed and widely un-punished. While consumer awareness is only part of the global solution, counterfeited products are now so visually deceptive consumers often unknowingly purchase hazardous or deadly products. "It's the consumer who ultimately gets hurt" says Crosby.
Could you identify these counterfeit products? They are all actual counterfeit products.
(photo credit: TheCounterfeitReport.com )
Shown: clockwise; Vans Canvas Shoe, Novartis Lamisil, Gillette Mach 3 Razor Blades, Head Radical Series Racquet, Otterbox Defender Cell Phone Case, Marc Jacobs Daisy Perfume, Bear Grylls Ultimate Hunting Knife, iPhone USB Charger, Montblanc Meisterstuck Pen, Streamlight TLR-2 Weapon Light/Laser.
Organized crime has grown counterfeiting into a virtual global ATM for the bad guys, and is funding gangs, criminal activity, human trafficking, and even terrorists says a World Trade Organization report. Counterfeited products are not victimless crimes, but an organized, highly profitable criminal enterprise with sometimes deadly results.
While price and quality were usually an indication that products were counterfeit and most consumers still believe they can identify a fake, "that is simply not true" says Crosby. "Consumers looking for a bargain are handing over good money for bad products at prices near retail believing they are purchasing the real thing." These products, while visually almost identical to the authentic item, are poor quality and usually fail after being given as gifts or put into use.
Think you can spot a counterfeit? "Probably not" says Crosby who reviews hundreds of counterfeit products. "Serious problems and hazards await unsuspecting consumers who unknowingly use counterfeit products every day that are widely distributed via the internet, swap meets and retail stores. Examples include counterfeit auto air bags, fire extinguishers, medications, electronic components, power equipment and alcohol.
The Counterfeit Report website features over 200 global brands and a wide variety of counterfeit products accompanied by hundreds of product photos to educate and help consumersvisually identify the fakes. "If it's manufactured, it's probably been counterfeited and will likely fool you." says Crosby.
The distribution process is the same and simple; consumers shopping for "a good internet deal" see website listings displaying the manufacturer's (stock) advertising product photo of authentic everyday products; fragrances, phone chargers, sporting goods, batteries and much, much more. However, what the consumer often receives is an expertly crafted counterfeit; specifically designed, manufactured and packaged to deceive them -- and they are.
Counterfeit products are also purchased specifically to be substituted for locally purchased authentic products and then returned to retailers for a refund. The barcodes scan correctly, and when accompanied by a receipt and still sealed, may go un-noticed by untrained sales staff. The undetected counterfeit is returned to store inventory and sold to an unsuspecting consumer. Crosby occasionally presents counterfeit products to retail employees who are often astonished at the appearance and visual quality of many counterfeit items, yet the retailers usually note the comparative quality differences with side-by-side-comparisons.
The Counterfeit Report® is the first and only website to provide consumers a free and informative visual guide to detecting counterfeit products, while providing manufacturers with brand protection and direct consumer education. The Counterfeit Report uses photos to show consumers the sophistication of counterfeiters and their ability to create visually identical counterfeit products and packaging of products consumers would never suspect are counterfeited. Consumers can report seeing or purchasing counterfeit products directly to the manufacturer on the website, while manufacturers have an immediate resource to list and update their counterfeit product information in a central venue for the greatest audience exposure.