Top 6 Ways Dangerous Counterfeits Are Sold
You may personally condemn and avoid counterfeit goods. Your company may wisely do the same. But you may still fall victim to the crime of counterfeiting – particularly if you don’t know your suppliers. Complex global supply chains and online marketplaces make it easier for counterfeiters to infiltrate legitimate sales channels, or simply trick both consumers and businesses into buying fakes despite their best intentions.
Counterfeits may look all right, but they’re are all wrong
There’s an old saying that applies to counterfeiting, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Counterfeiters often work hard to disguise the fact that their goods are fakes. Their goal is unchanged: to profit by taking advantage of people*. Their methods are just getting more sophisticated.
Part of the challenge is that counterfeiters are producing higher-quality products, packaging and labeling that make it harder to detect fakes. Sellers of counterfeit goods are also getting better at deception, using stock photos of real products.
Interestingly, raising the price of counterfeit goods also makes it psychologically more challenging for purchasers to resist – the counterfeit goods are just a bit cheaper, which provides reassurance that the buyer is simply getting a good deal, not being scammed.
* Source: http://www.safebee.com/money/protect-yourself-counterfeit-products-and-fraud-when-shopping-online
6 common methods of selling counterfeits
These days, most people buy counterfeits unknowingly, either through a dishonest source, or through an honest source that has also been duped.
Here are six ways it’s done:
1. Online marketplaces with no anti-counterfeiting policy.
These are normally based in the countries where counterfeits are made. Counterfeiters set up profiles in order to sell to international retailers or directly to consumers. Some buyer protection measures are in place, such as secure payment methods, but there is no protection from vendors selling dangerous counterfeits.
2. Internationally reputable online marketplaces.
These are retail platforms that operate around the world and enjoy the trust of many customers in the western world. They have policies against counterfeiting, but when a seller is caught, that seller will often re-appear under a different name.
3. Deceptive product websites.
Some counterfeiters set up web shops to sell their counterfeit products. Watch out for words like “authentic” or “genuine” and look for indications that the website is secure. If you have any doubt, research the company’s reputation and remember – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Reputable “bricks-and-mortar” retailers, wholesalers, suppliers.
Sometimes even honest retailers are duped by counterfeiters. Even consumers should learn how to check products for authenticity, and companies should provide resources to help consumers do just that.
5. Dishonest suppliers of components or materials.
Sometimes, authentic products contain counterfeit components. Companies must check their supply chains thoroughly and make sure they really know and trust all of their suppliers.
6. Flea markets and street vendors.
It may be cliché, but it’s still common. This traditional style of selling counterfeits is being eclipsed by the magnitude of online counterfeit sales. However, be aware that it still exists and be vigilant when visiting flea markets.
In 2018, Europol shut down nearly 34,000 sites associated with counterfeiting**. That may seem like a lot, until you realize that this is probably only a fraction of the total. The key is to be aware of how common counterfeiting is, how widespread and easily accessible fakes goods are, as well as how easy it is for consumers and business to become victims. Awareness, vigilant defense, and active reporting to the authorities is the only combination of measures that can protect you or your company’s supply chain.
**Source: Intellectual property – Agencies Can Improve Efforts to Address Risks Posed by Changing Counterfeits Market; United States Government Accountability Office