26th November 2020

Operation CAROL tackles fakes

An initiative to take on online sellers of fake goods in the run-up to Christmas is under way.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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These traders are deceiving consumers and selling counterfeit goods, many of which will be dangerous and unsafe

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to have a profound effect on the retail sector, with most shops closed due to lockdown restrictions, early Christmas shoppers are turning to social media to buy their gifts.

According to PwC UK, consumers are expected to carry out 88% of Black Friday shopping online this year, up from 77% in 2019, due to bringing forward Christmas spending.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) is warning consumers of fake and potentially dangerous goods that may appear on social media in the run up to Christmas. “Traders in counterfeit goods use brand names to try to openly sell their illicit products on social media. Some even offer home delivery” said Phil Lewis, the group’s Director General.

“With social media being so accessible to these sellers, they are trading from their front rooms and vans in car parks, selling fake. Christmas shoppers are falling of this fraudulent activity. Consumers must be vigilant and check the product is being sold by a reputable source and report potentially counterfeit goods when it seems suspicious.”

Operation CAROL, a collaborative enforcement campaign coordinated by ACG, is working to take down prolific Facebook and Instagram traders who are impacting on its member brands. The operation is made possible with collaboration from Facebook and UK Intellectual Property Office.

“These traders are deceiving consumers and selling counterfeit goods, many of which will be dangerous and unsafe. This operation, which coincides with Black Friday and National Consumer Week, will help protect innocent people who are simply seeking a bargain and instead may be receiving inferior goods, that are not genuine brands. We aim to restrict the availability of counterfeit goods on these platforms at this critical time of year” commented Graham Mogg, ACG Intelligence coordinator.

“We are very grateful to Facebook and the Intelligence Hub at the Intellectual Property Office without whom this operation would not be possible.’’

A spokesperson for Facebook said: “Facebook takes intellectual property rights, including issues concerning counterfeits, extremely seriously and applies a variety of measures to action violating content. More information about how Facebook protects intellectual property can be found in this anti-counterfeiting guide in its Business Help Center.’’