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The City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has urged consumers to buy electrical products from reputable sellers, along with providing advice to help shoppers avoid fakes.
PIPCU is working on the ‘Shocking Fakes’ campaign with consumer goods company BaByliss, charity Electrical Safety First, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the City of London Corporation’s Trading Standards, safety company UL and the London Fire Brigade.
If an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is, said PIPCU in a press release issued yesterday, November 25.
The unit advised people to trust their instincts and said that legitimate designer items are rarely discounted.
“Consumers should also ensure they check the spelling and grammar on websites and of the URL often the people behind these sites do not pay a lot of attention or care to this detail,” said the release.
Fraudsters may slightly change the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address, said PIPCU.
“Just because a web address ends with ‘.co.uk’ does not mean the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, consumers should be wary.”
In addition to the dangers that come from purchasing fake items (such as fires and electric shock injuries), consumers should be wary that there is more at stake.
Consumers may become victims of identity theft if they provide personal details to online criminals who then use these details to commit fraud, such as registering websites selling counterfeits.
PIPCU also cited a report by charity Electrical Safety First which was published in June this year.
The report stated that out of 1,807 people, 30% of consumers surveyed had been duped by a counterfeit electrical that had been advertised as genuine.
Millennials are most likely to fall victim to counterfeit scams, with around half of 25 to 34-year-olds having been conned into buying fake electrical goods online, said the report.
PIPCU’s detective chief inspector Teresa Russell said: “We are empowering people to take action and accept nothing less than a safe electrical item. A counterfeit may be cheaper, but peace of mind and safety are so important. Consumer safety is at the heart of our work.”
Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the IPO, added that the office and PIPCU are working together to identify sources of counterfeit electrical goods and educate the public about the dangers of buying such items.
PIPCU, anti-counterfeiting, electricals, counterfeits, online shopping, fake goods, BaByliss, UKIPO