Don't fall for these festive fakes

Fake santaPA

We're all used to fakes at Christmas - endless dodgy old guys with cotton wool beards pretending to be someone they're not.

However, increasingly these aren't the only fakes trying to part us from our cash: there's a whole new breed of fake gifts that could ruin this Christmas if you're not careful.

Record fakes

Border Agency staff say they are seizing record numbers of fake goods being brought into the UK, and that this could be the worst Christmas on record for counterfeiting. Last year 5.5 million fakes were caught at the UK's borders, with a value of over £10 million. This year, however, there will be far more.

Nothing is safe from the counterfeiters - from designer interiors and toys to clothes and electronic equipment.

Where will you fall victim?

The traditional market stall of knock-offs is a less likely destination than it once was. Many are now sold online to people hunting for bargains who genuinely believe they are buying the real thing. According to Which? nowadays 23% of all fakes are sold online and 10% of all shoppers have accidentally bought at least one fake.

These may be sold through online auctions, or through sites which look remarkably similar to genuine designers, but with the word sale included, a spelling mistake, or a slight telling difference.

Sometimes they are bought by people in the UK who ship them in and sell online. In other cases the goods are bought direct from overseas. If they are caught on the way in, they are then confiscated, leaving the buyer with nothing and no compensation.

The risks

In many instances the packaging and designs are almost identical. So they may be tempting for those trying to cut back on the cost of Christmas.

However, at best they are inferior in design or quality, and leave the taxman and the designer out of pocket. At worst they can be seriously dangerous.

The Border Agency says they have come across candles that explode, toys that lose small parts that then present a choking hazard and jewellery made with chemicals that can cause skin irritation. Even if they don't end up harming you, many will not last beyond Boxing Day, which will soon take the shine off your new presents.

But what do you think? Have you ever bought a fake? Would you ever give one as a Christmas present? Let us know in the comments.

The Border Agency has released a list of 12 commonplace fakes this Christmas

Dangerous candle

Counterfeit Jo Malone scented candles which cause the glass to break when the candle is lit.

Hello Kitty risks

Fake Hello Kitty jewellery box, lamp and headphones. The box may be made using phthalates, which raises health concerns, the headphones are unlikely to have standard volume controls and the lamp may be a fire risk.

Phoney headphones

Beats by Dr Dre headphones. Fake copies are unlikely to last much beyond Boxing Day.

Charmless bracelet

Fake Pandora charm bracelets which could leak nickel and cause skin allergies.

Overheating style

Fake ghds could overheat and burn the user.

Unfriendship bracelet

Fake Links of London friendship bracelet contain banned metals which could cause a rash.

Fake pens

Mont Blanc fountain pen fakes which have lower quality nibs.

Risky safety reins

Counterfeit Little Life dinosaur animal daysack with cheap fastenings that could break.

Fake DVDs

Likely to be poor quality copies.

Danger bag

Cath Kidston fake day bag, with potentially banned chemicals.

Rip off make-up

Bobbi Brown rip off could include wood from an endangered species.

Urgh boots

Fake UGG Australia boots which have been poorly glued together.
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