Counterfeit Goods

What are counterfeit goods?

Counterfeit goods are basically illegal copies of popular brand name products.  Designer clothes, handbags, computer software as well as chart topping music and films on CD, video and DVD are commonly counterfeited.  Other products that have been targeted by counterfeiters include alcohol, tobacco, toys, computers, mobile phones, car parts, cosmetics and medicines.

Why should you avoid buying counterfeit goods?

Help reduce organised crime: Sales of counterfeit goods often form part of a large scale, organised crime such as human trafficking, gun and weapon possession, drugs, money laundering and benefit fraud.

Your safety: Counterfeit goods may be unsafe and dangerous examples include:

Fake alcohol can contain methanol, a chemical that can cause blindness, coma and death

Fake beauty products often contain sub-standard ingredients that could give you a rash or an allergic reaction

Fake electrical goods, including hair straighteners, mobile phones and camera chargers may contain unsafe wiring that can lead to over-heating, creating risks of fire, electrocution and personal injury

Fake toys may not have been tested to strict safety requirements and hence contain small parts that are a choking hazard

Top tips to avoid buying counterfeit goods

Be suspicious about bargains.  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

Find out if you have any guarantees or after-sales service

Examine the quality of the goods and check labels and packaging for misspellings and poor logos

Take extra care at car boot sales, pubs and computer fairs, or in other situations where it may be more difficult to get in touch with the trader after the purchase

You should also guard against buying fakes on the internet

The Law on counterfeit goods

People who sell counterfeit goods can face fines of up to £ 5,000.00 in a Magistrates Court and/or imprisonment for up to six months.  Unlimited fine may be imposed by the Crown Court with up to ten years imprisonment for Trade Marks Act 1994 offences.

Reporting counterfeit goods

If you believe you have been sold counterfeit goods or if you suspect an individual is selling fake items please contact:

Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 2231133.

Further information on counterfeit goods can be found at: and