People are being urged to be vigilant and avoid buying counterfeit goods if they’re heading to one of Staffordshire’s Easter bank holiday markets or car boot sales.
The first bank holiday of the year also marks the beginning of the car boot sale and markets season. While providing a family day out where people can pick up a bargain, they can attract traders selling counterfeit and illicit goods. The county council’s trading standards team coordinates the national Real Deal markets campaign in Staffordshire. Market organisers can sign up to support the fight to stamp out the sale of counterfeit goods.
Counterfeit items harm the economy and can harm people. The majority of goods seized in 2016/17 were illicit tobacco products, although others included counterfeit electrical goods and cosmetics. Fake electrical goods are hazardous as they can cause fires and electrocution. Harmful substances such as high lead levels in perfume are a risk with counterfeit cosmetics. Legitimate traders suffer as a result of counterfeit sales; harming the local economy in the process. Money made also goes into the pockets of organised criminal gangs.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards manager Brandon Cook said:
Bank holiday markets are great family events and we support the organisers running them. We’re part of the national Real Deal markets campaign which encourages market event organisers to help us in tackling counterfeit goods sales.
“We want people to avoid the pitfalls of counterfeit goods this holiday weekend and throughout the year – protecting themselves and legitimate businesses.
“Counterfeit goods are increasingly hard to detect just to look at, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. We always say that if a price of an item is too good to be true, it usually is.
“Anyone who buys counterfeit goods will land themselves with shoddy goods which may be dangerous and at the same time line criminals’ pockets.”
Some of the hidden dangers of counterfeit goods include:
• Counterfeit alcohol such as vodka contains dangerous chemicals which can cause may health problems such as blindness
• Counterfeit perfume can often burn skin or leave a nasty rash and may contain lead
• Fake sunglasses often offer no UVA protection, causing eye damage
• Fake or illicit tobacco often contains unknown chemicals, higher tar levels and cigarettes can be a fire risk as they do not burn out like legitimate products
• Counterfeit children’s toys can often be unsafe with unsuitable small parts and children’s clothes may be inflammable.
Anyone wanting to report counterfeit goods sales can call the anonymous Staffordshire Fight the Fakes line on 01785 330356.