Top 10 Counterfeit Products and Their Hidden Dangers

It’s not just “Fucci” bags and “Nolex” watches.

On the surface of things, a counterfeit looks good. Consumers may ask: “What’s the harm?” On closer inspection, the reality is very different. Fake logos often hide unsafe and illegal chemicals, dangerous production methods, child labor, and even modern slavery. Counterfeiters only care about profit, finding any means to meet their unethical ends – ultimately putting the lives and livelihoods of us all at risk.

Just how many counterfeit products are out there? The true amount of counterfeiting is unknown. The world’s law enforcement organizations can only base their estimates on what kinds of fake goods they actually stop and seize.

But the number and range of counterfeited products is astonishing – even reaching into the medical sector. The top ten categories are*:

  1. Shoes/footwear
  2. Clothing and textiles
  3. Leather goods, including belts, wallets and purses
  4. Electrical machinery and equipment
  5. Watches
  6. Medical, optical and photographic instruments
  7. Perfumes and cosmetics
  8. Toys
  9. Jewelry
  10. Medicines and pharmaceutical products

Even food products can be counterfeited – such as ketchup, rice, cheese, and eggs! And don’t be fooled by size; some people assume that only smaller items can be counterfeited – but even fake name-brand cars have infiltrated the market.

Don’t let ignorance of the dangers or a lack of knowledge of how to spot fakes catch you off guard and put you at risk.

* Source: Trends in Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods; OECD/EUIPO

It’s easier to fake than you think

Some items are more commonly and frequently counterfeited because they are easy to fake without any technical expertise. This is the case with food and drink, textiles, clothing, and cosmetics.

Other items are popularly counterfeited because the profit per unit is so high. Counterfeiters have production costs, but these are quite low compared with the genuine manufacturers who have to ensure safety standards and pay workers competitive wages. Counterfeits that rake in revenues include luxury goods, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, electronic and digital devices, and even children’s toys.

Don’t buy a lie

The illusion of counterfeit products is that the buyer can get more for much less. But that low price comes at a high cost.

Consumers and companies who knowingly buy counterfeit products choose to ignore the real truth about the harm counterfeit goods can cause to their health and their brands.

Whether it’s a company risking its brand reputation by purchasing cut-rate counterfeit components, or a father risking his child’s health with a counterfeit electronic toy, the risks are real.


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