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The UK's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has warned trick or treaters against buying fake fancy dress costumes online in the lead up to Halloween, on October 31.
PIPCU, which released its statement yesterday, October 24, said that counterfeit Halloween costumes pose risks of suffocation and strangulation from unsuitable fastenings, and poisoning from untested dyes.
“The outfits are not tested or subjected to the same rigorous testing as genuine items and therefore pose a public safety risk to consumers,” PIPCU said.
PIPCU added that the packaging of the clothing also does not meet safety standards.
Shoppers are also at risk of identity theft from the fraudsters who sell the costumes, PIPCU said.
“When buying items online, people will part with personal details including banking details which allow fraudsters to set up new websites selling counterfeit products in the victim’s name,” the IP crime unit explained.
Consumers should ensure that they purchase their costumes from legitimate sellers, PIPCU said.
Dominique Peckett, director of fancy dress retailer Smiffys, said: “We take infringement of our IP rights extremely seriously as it represents a direct attack on our business and is theft of our intellectual creations.”
The UK’s IP crime unit issued some guidance to help shoppers avoid getting “cursed” this Halloween, including tips such as, “if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is”.
PIPCU also advised consumers to check the spelling and grammar of websites and URLs, as those behind rogue sites often attempt to deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a known brand in the website address.
Also, ensure that e-commerce sites have ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL at the payment stage of the process, PIPCU said, as this indicates a secure payment.
Nicholas Court, detective inspector at PIPCU, said: “Enjoying Halloween safely should be a guarantee, not a treat. Purchasing costumes from a reputable seller will ensure you are not tricked into buying unsafe products.”
Court said: “Counterfeit costumes are untested, meaning they put people at risk of suffocation and strangulation. Make sure your Halloween is scary for the right reasons.”
Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Halloween, counterfeit costumes, fake consumer goods, branding, e-commerce, Smiffys, fraud, e-commerce, online