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Shocking Fakes

The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), in partnership with BaByliss, Electrical Safety First, the Intellectual Property Office, the City of London Corporation’s Trading Standards, UL and London Fire Brigade, is urging shoppers to buy electrical products from reputable sellers.

The report, produced by Electrical Safety First, shows that out of 1,807 people, 30% of consumers surveyed had been duped by a counterfeit electrical that had been advertised as genuine. Now PIPCU is keen to show that purchasing from reputable retailers offers consumers the reassurance their item will be genuine whilst meeting UK safety standards.

What is the true cost?

In May 2018, a fire broke out at a flat in North West London, leading to around twenty people being evacuated. London Fire Brigade investigators believe an unbranded mobile phone charger caused the fire. The fire was discovered by a neighbour living in a flat at the rear of the building who heard a smoke alarm and then saw flames through the window. The flat, on the third floor of the five storey building, was badly damaged with six fire engines and around 40 firefighters attending.

There’s more at stake

Traders who import and sell unsafe counterfeit electricals should be aware that they are committing offences, not only under the Trade Marks Act but also under safety legislation that is enforced by Trading Standards.

The dangers of purchasing a counterfeit electrical have been well publicised, including fires and electric shock injuries. However, there’s more at stake when buying fake goods online. There can be consequences of providing personal details to online criminals who then use them to commit fraud such as registering counterfeit websites. This can result in online shoppers unwittingly becoming victims of identity theft. 

Protect yourself

  • Trust your instincts - if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Legitimate designer items are rarely discounted.
  • Check the spelling and grammar on websites and of the URL – often the people behind these sites do not pay a lot of attention or care to this detail. Fraudsters may also try to deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.
  • Look to see where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address – just because the web address has ‘uk’ do not assume the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, be wary.
  • Only deal with reputable sellers - only use sites you know or ones that have been recommended to you. If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research and check online reviews. People will often turn to forums and blogs to warn others of fake sites.

Further protection advice

How can I report counterfeit electricals?

If you have unfortunately purchased an item you believed to be genuine but now suspect this may not be the case you can report it to Action Fraud online​ or call 0300 123 2040. 

If you suspect someone to be involved in the sale or trade of counterfeit items you can report this to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their website.

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