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Curbing counterfeits

By Eudora Kelley
15 June 2016   |   2:55 am
In places such as Hong Kong, people can purchase a DVD or Blu-Ray of a new movie in the streets the very same day that the film debuts in theatres.

counterfeit-goodsMovie
In places such as Hong Kong, people can purchase a DVD or Blu-Ray of a new movie in the streets the very same day that the film debuts in theatres. For a fraction of the cost of a movie ticket, people can watch the latest Fast and Furious movie from the comfort of their living room on a pirated DVD or Blu-Ray disc. This is because enterprising pirates have filmed the movie on a camcorder, or using their smart phone, while seated at the back of a movie theatre and then transferred it to a DVD or Blu-ray disc and rushed it for sale in the street.

Many pirated movies also pop-up on online streaming websites. The problem of pirated movies has become so pervasive that websites such as “Torrent Freak” have taken to listing the “10 Most Pirated Movies of the Week.” Nollywood estimate that they lose billions annually due to pirated films sold worldwide.

Pharmaceutical drugs
Probably the scariest counterfeit item on this list has to do with pharmaceutical drugs. Counterfeit drugs have been reported to cause serious harm to people, including death. But with medication prices being too expensive for people to afford in many countries, the market for fake pharmaceuticals among desperately ill people continues to grow. And counterfeit pharmaceuticals can include everything from Aspirin to morphine. There have been global reports of babies dying in China because their parents bought counterfeit baby formula that had no nutritional value, as well as AIDS patients in Africa overdosing on fraudulent medications that were purchased in open air bazaars. Fake pharmaceuticals often contain no medicine at all and simply have clever packaging and labeling. Sadly, many people realise this fact too late.

Computers
Computers, particularly lap-tops, have become increasingly popular in the counterfeit trade. Knock-offs of popular computer brands such as Dell, HP and notably Apple are becoming more common place at raids and seizures of counterfeit goods.

Also popular are counterfeit computer accessories, which can include everything from integrated circuits and semiconductors to recycled hard drives and printer cartridges. The problem has become so bad that The Semiconductor Industry Association has taken to issuing warnings about the dangers of using counterfeit semiconductors in everything from computers to household appliances. Many counterfeiters scavenge computer parts from e-waste drop off locations, recycle them, give them a fake brand name and sell them for a profit.

Designer labels / tags
It’s well-known that many people buy clothes because of the label or tag on it. A particular label is a status symbol and shows that a person has both good taste and money.

Whether it is the Polo Ralph Lauren horse on a shirt, a Levis red tag on the back pocket of a pair of jeans, or the Armani tag on a suit, most people shop for brand name clothing.

And nobody knows this more than counterfeiters, which is why there are massive factories in China churning out nothing but fake designer labels and tags that can be sewn onto cheap clothes and sold for a premium. Look closely and you will see that horse on the Ralph Lauren knock-off is not quite the same as the original. But from a distance it is close enough to fool people. And at a fraction of the price of a real branded label, the fake tag business has proven to be very popular and lucrative.

Food products
It might seem a little strange to think that food products and well-known brands of food could be counterfeited, but that is increasingly the case – especially as food prices around the world continue to rise and companies charge a premium for their brands, whether it be coffee, chocolate or fruits.

How to Spot Counterfeit Products
Look out for deals that are too good to be true: not all fake sell at lower prices than their genuine counterparts, out an unreal bargain is one of the surest signs of an un-real product. Ask yourself how someone can sell, for example, a brand new N50,000 tool for N15,000 – chances are it’s because it’s fake.

Pay a little attention to the products you purchase and you will be much better at spotting a counterfeit because you will have something to compare it to. If you are purchasing a brand that is new to you or a product that you don’t frequently buy, compare it to the same product at other stories. You can also compare brands against other brands; for example, if you are not sure about a certain extension cord compare it to others that are for sale in the same aisle. All brands of extension cords will have a lot of the same information and symbols printed on them or on their packaging, so if one particular brand doesn’t it may be fake.

Beware products that are flimsy or are obliviously fake. Quality control is often absent in counterfeiting operations, so you, may be able to spot a counterfeit simply based on its workmanship. Of course, even if it isn’t counterfeit, do you really want a poorly-made product?

Inspect the packaging carefully. Reputable businesses typically take great care in packaging their products. Beware flimsy packaging, packaging with substandard printing or colors, or packages that appear to have been opened. In addition, take a moment to actually read the package.

Spelling or grammatical errors are common on the packaging for counterfeit goods. For example, boxes of counterfeit toothpaste that showed up in U.S stories in June 2007 had several obvious typos.

Does the packaging exactly match the product? Some careless counterfeiters will try putting a fake drill, for example, in the box for a saw. It’s rarely this obvious-check model numbers on the packaging against the model number of the equipment, and carefully examine tags on clothing.

Look out for every plain box. Most product labels and boxes these days have whole host of information printed on them, from bar codes to trademark and patent information to recycling symbols counterfeiters often don’t want to spend the time to reproduce every detail, so they will likely leave some of this stuff off.

Look for manufacturer contact information. Most reputable companies will provide a phone number or at least an address at which consumers can contact them.