Sunday, February 12, 2012

Top 10 counterfeit goods

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 25,000 shipments of counterfeit goods that were making their way into the country. The total value of that loot: $178.9 million. Here are the top 10 fakes and how to spot them:

1) Electronics

Value of counterfeits seized: $39 million
Retail value: $101.2 million
Percentage of total seizures: 22%

Among the hottest items: smart phones, tablet computers and DVD or music players.

2) Shoes

Value of counterfeits seized: $25.3 million
Retail value: $97 million
Percentage of total seizures: 14%

Counterfeit shoes used to consist mostly of Nike knock-offs and other athletic footwear, but these days the fakes are going high-end. Counterfeiters are now selling luxury brands like Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo, which retail for upwards of $600. And of course, there are those ever-popular Ugg boots that cost $200 a pop for the real deal.

3) Drugs

Value of counterfeits seized: $16.9 million
Retail value: $25.2 million
Percentage of total seizures: 9%

Counterfeit drugs, from prescription pills to over-the-counter medications, can potentially be very dangerous. Most likely, those meds were not manufactured according to the FDA's standards and do not contain the proper amount of active ingredients, if any at all.

For example, one of the most popular counterfeits, Viagra, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction, could contain brick powder, flour and gypsum wall, according to John Clark, chief security officer of Pfizer which makes the drug. And chances are they were also not stored in sanitary conditions and could be contaminated -- in other words, you could end up worse off than you started.

4) CDs and DVDs

Value of counterfeits seized: $15.6 million
Retail value: $35 million
Percentage of total seizures: 9%

As a result of internet piracy, movies, music, exercise videos, business software and educational material have become increasingly easy to rip off, costing the U.S.-based motion picture and recording industry colossal sums.

5) Clothing

Value of counterfeits seized: $14.8 million
Retail value: $126.3 million
Percentage of total seizures: 8%

Most fakes are manufactured in China and can very closely resemble the real brands also made there. But with a little sleuthing, it's clear that the knock-offs are not the same. Cost-cutting counterfeits will use cheaper substitutes on the fabric and zippers, which will likely wear out or break quickly. To spot a fake, check for details like the brand name on the buttons and lesser-quality stitching around the pockets and hems.

6) Perfume

Value of counterfeits seized: $9.5 million
Retail value: $51 million
Percentage of total seizures: 5%

Fake perfumes can literally stink. Counterfeiters spend more time copying the packaging than the scent, which spells trouble for those who buy a phony fragrance.

7) Watches

Value of counterfeits seized: $8.4 million
Retail value: $112.7 million
Percentage of total seizures: 5%

Watches are the classic counterfeit -- and they are also among the trickiest for even connoisseurs to spot.

Lesser materials and cheap inner workings used to be obvious in a watch that feels lighter and doesn't work as well as the real thing, but "modern technology allows counterfeiters to reproduce watches at a level of detail that's frightening," noted Michael Friedman, watch expert and horological director of Antiquorum auction house.

One of the best ways to make sure a timepiece is legitimate is to examine the box and certificate to see if the serial numbers on the accompanying material match up.

8) Cigarettes

Value of counterfeits seized: $8.2 million
Retail value: $10.9 million
Percentage of total seizures: 5%

Steep taxes on tobacco products, coupled with high demand, have made cigarettes a lucrative business for counterfeiters.

Knocked off Marlboro or Camels may be a bargain but they often contain potentially harmful chemical compositions. Not only that, but they are downright dangerous, too. "A genuine cigarette has a controlled burn so if you set it down it will self-extinguish, a fake cigarette will not do that."

9) Computer hardware

Value of counterfeits seized: $7.8 million
Retail value: $22.6 million
Percentage of total seizures: 4%

Despite the complicated inner workings, everything from desktop and laptop computers to modems and circuit boards are counterfeited surprisingly well in China along side the real thing.

10) Toys and games

Value of counterfeits seized: $7.6 million
Retail value: $26.9 million
Percentage of total seizures: 4%

Kids and counterfeits don't seem like a likely match but there are also a slew of knocked-off children's toys, dolls and video games making their way into this country.

In recent years, customs has cracked down on imitations of Nintendo's Game Boy, Thomas the Tank Engine and even Lego's.

Knocking off toys is not child's play. Not only could the toys be potentially hazardous due to a lack of quality control, but the trade of counterfeit trademarked goods threaten legitimate American business, cost jobs and undermines the U.S. economy. Those profits have also been found to fund criminal activity and organized crime, according to Customs and Border Protection.

Source: CNN Money

4 comments:

  1. As a result of internet piracy, movies, music, exercise videos, business software and educational material have become increasingly easy to rip off, costing the U.S.-based motion picture and recording industry colossal sums.
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  2. Hello,
    I have a question about your blog, could you email me?
    David

    ReplyDelete
  3. Knocking off toys is not child's play. Not only could the toys be potentially hazardous due to a lack of quality control, but the trade of counterfeit trademarked goods threaten legitimate American business, cost jobs and undermines the U.S. economy.
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  4. Are you paying more than $5 per pack of cigs? I buy my cigarettes from Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 60% from cigs.

    ReplyDelete