Residents are being warned to beware of purchasing counterfeit goods during the festive season after the value of items seized has more than doubled in the last year.
During 2011 Trading Standards seized approximately £26,000 worth of counterfeit goods. This year the figure has increased to over £57,000 worth and there has been a significant move to internet transactions.
Throughout the festive season, Trading Standards are carrying out more joint operations with Police and other agencies and are working closer together across the region to target the main suppliers of counterfeit goods.
A wide range of goods has been seized during the last twelve months including branded clothing, trainers, DVDs and CDs, computer games cards and where appropriate, computers and mobile phones have been seized for further examination for evidence.
One of the most frequently found current counterfeits is Dr Dre headphones – the price for the genuine item is approximately £120 but fake copies have been found on sale in Walsall for £15. The second most popular counterfeits are DVDs including current films such as Skyfall.
The main outlets for the counterfeit goods are; internet sites, markets and a few retail shops. When buying on the internet business may appear to be located in the UK but this can be a front for companies based anywhere in the world and it may be difficult for consumers to return goods or obtain refunds where bogus traders operate in this way.
Trading Standards officers have received a significant number of complaints during the last twelve months where they have been unable to assist consumers when products have been supplied from outside of the EEC. However, paying by Credit Card can sometimes offer an element of financial protection for goods over £100.
Officers also recently participated in a regional project to tackle counterfeit and bootleg alcohol.
A total of 22 premises were visited and incorrect products were found in 4 premises. 15 bottles of suspected counterfeit spirits including Smirnof Vodka, Glens and Black Label Whisky were seized for further examination.
Counterfeit cigarettes are also a problem and officers are continuing to investigate all information and complaints that they receive.
Councillor Zahid Ali, portfolio holder for public protection with Walsall Council’s Coalition, said: “We would advise residents to be very careful when looking at potential counterfeit goods. Price is often a good indication because branded goods usually maintain their price so if goods are found at substantially lower prices than would be expected or a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
“If consumers buy fake goods then they face the prospect of not being able to obtain refunds if the goods are faulty or of unsatisfactory quality and some counterfeit products can be unsafe such as fake cigarettes or spirits.
“Purchasing counterfeit goods not only makes the problem worse but it also undermines genuine business which is essential for a recovering economy,” he added.
Anyone who has any information regarding sale of counterfeit goods in the borough should call 01922 653040.