Consumers urged to 'shop smart' and avoid counterfeits

An estimated 2.5 million people have accidentally bought a fake product in the last 12 months

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The number of Britons who have bought a counterfeit electrical product has doubled in a year, figures suggest.

An estimated 2.5 million people have either knowingly or accidentally bought a fake product in the last 12 months, double the number of the year before, while consumers say they are twice as likely to see counterfeits for sale near them or online than a year ago, a survey for the charity Electrical Safety First found.

Some 7% reported buying counterfeits through a social media advert, although online retailers still account for 60% of all fake electrical purchases, the poll found.

One in 12 people (8%) said they would buy a suspected fake electrical product if it was cheaper than the original, up from 4% last year.

However 56% of those who had done so had experienced a problem, up from 39% a year ago.

Electrical Safety First said its own testing on popular counterfeit products such as e-cigarettes and blenders found they could contain less than half the internal components required to run safely, leaving users at risk of serious injury or property damage.

The charity's spokeswoman Emma Apter said: "This research is concerning as it shows that although we're more aware of counterfeits than before, more of us are taking the risk and buying a counterfeit electrical product.

"While cost is an important factor in any purchase, it's vital for shoppers to be aware of the risks they could be taking when buying a fake product.

"We're urging people to 'shop smart'. At best you could be swindled but at worst you could be putting your life at risk. The best way to guarantee an item's legitimacy is to buy directly from official retailers either online or in-store."

Alison Statham, director of operations at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, said: "Both Europol and Interpol recognise counterfeiting as an extremely dangerous, multinational, organised crime activity, with links to sinister networks across the world.

"In the UK, we have notorious hotspots such as Wellesbourne, Stratford, and Cheetham Hill in Manchester.

"Sales of fakes in areas such as these are destroying the UK's international reputation for fair trade and investment. Most importantly, they also undermine community safety and result in massive losses in public revenue, trade and jobs."

Victims of scams and fraud

Victims of scams and fraud


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