The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) is warning shoppers in search of a Black Friday bargain this year that by buying cheap goods online, they could put themselves and their families at risk.
The disruption to the supply chain in the run-up to Christmas – with shipments queuing at UK ports and a shortage of haulage drivers – is likely to result in shortages of certain items, and a related rise in prices of in-demand items such as must-have toys.
ACG warns that counterfeiters will be at the front of the queue of criminals seeking to exploit the situation, by readying themselves to supply fake products, at discounted prices, online.
The threat was evident during the height of the pandemic, when global counterfeiting gangs were already stockpiling cheap and dangerous versions of popular goods – which, according to ACG, are about to flood the UK market.
Using sophisticated-looking websites, e-commerce platforms, auction sites and social media, there will be tempting offers of cut-price items that could endanger families more than ever before.
The British Toy and Hobby Association recently published a report which found that 88% of toys bought from third-party online marketplace sellers were illegal for sale in the UK and that 48% were clearly unsafe for children.
These dangerous and non-compliant toys can result in injuries including choking, strangulation, damage to sight or hearing, burns, chemical poisoning and electric shocks.
ACG also points out that online payments to criminals can expose consumers to fraudulent activity.
“Counterfeiters thrive when supply chains are disrupted and money is tight,” ACG said in a statement. “For them, the current climate is too good to be true and consumers need to be extra careful when buying online this year, to avoid the threat of dangerous fake goods and the possibility of associated identify theft.”