Major airports and ports in Britain are flooded with counterfeits of major designer brands from China and other Asian countries ahead of Christmas, authorities say.
The UK Border Agency counterfeit team at Heathrow is making huge seizures of fake products every day at the airport. According to them, 70 percent of the fake products are coming from China. Products from India, Thailand and Turkey are also flooding the ports, the Daily Mail has reported.
"This has been our busiest year yet. We are making seizures every day and across a huge range of goods," the Daily Mail has quoted Peter Herron, member of the Border Agency counterfeit team in Heathrow, as saying.
The urge to go bargain-hunting in hard times encourages the flow of fake products into the country. And it is very difficult for consumers to tell the fake product from the original.
The seized items include fakes of bracelets from Links of London, Mont Blanc fountain pens, Cath Kidston handbags, UGG boots, make-up from fashionable brands such as Mac and Bobbi Brown and Jo Malone scented candles. There are Rolex watches and all the latest gizmos such as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 among the items seized over the past couple of weeks at the Heathrow airport.
Children's favourites like Hello Kitty jewellery boxes, the latest Nintendo DS, soft toys from TV show In The Night Garden, Smurfs and familiar faces from Thomas the Tank Engine also make an entry through the ports.
In the past few days, the counterfeit team at the Heathrow has seized two consignments of fake Dr Dre headphones estimated to be worth more than £38,000. Another big haul at Southampton docks found 45,000 pairs of fake Ugg boots which is estimated to be worth millions of pounds, the newspaper has reported.
There are also incidents of these fake products featuring in popular online websites like eBay and Amazon. A study by Which? magazine found out that 23 per cent of goods bought from Web sites, including online giants Amazon and eBay, were not genuine and there were no indications that these companies would be aware, the Daily Mail has reported.
According to the survey by Which?, one in 10 people have bought counterfeit products without realizing it. Statistics from the Intellectual Property Office has revealed that 7 percent of all goods sold in Britain are believed to be counterfeit, the newspaper report has pointed out.
Majority of these products are not made according to the EU standards and pose serious health problems to the people. Many of these products are not made in a sterile environment and often contain banned ingredients.
Here is the list of some of the fake items in branded labels that can be found in the shopping centers across the country, according to Christine Heemskerk, lead officer in consumer and product safety for the Trading Standards Institute.
Hello Kitty jewellery Box: Though it is very popular with preteen girls, the counterfeit of the product could cause serious health issues. "It is likely the jewellery box is made using phthalates, which means there are health concerns," Heemskerk told the Daily Mail.
"The headphones probably won't have the right volume controls and could damage young ears. The lamp is a fire risk - the shade could melt - and the wiring is suspect," she added.
Dr Dre headphones: Fake copies of the designer headphones are abundant in the market which may not even last for Boxing Day, Grant Miller, senior detection manager of the freight division at Heathrow, told the Daily Mail.
Links of London friendship bracelet: It may not be made from sterling silver like the originals and may contain banned metals which could cause rash, warned Heemskerk, according to the Daily Mail.
Precious Limited Edition Gift Set: The hair straightener and hair dryer have not been tested for EU standards, warned Heemskerk.
There are also fake copies of Walt Disney complete DVD, Cath Kidston Day bag, UGG Australia boots, Bobbi Brown make-up brush which are not made according to the safety standards, warn the experts.