Everyone is looking for a bargain in life and the emergence of online shopping has provided many consumers with the opportunity to find great goods at a lower price. There is an obvious argument that online retailers can lower their prices due to having fewer overheads and costs compared to normal retailers. This means that there are some bargains to be found online, and this is why and increasing number of people are buying brand products online.
The only problem is that the bargains may not be all that they are cracked up to be. It can be difficult to find great products available at a lower price, and what people are buying may actually be rip-off goods. This means that the deals are not as good as they seem, and there may even be a darker side to what people are buying. Due to the opportunity presented by the desire of people to find bargains, many criminal gangs and groups are offering counterfeit goods online. With a lot of consumers being so desperate to save money on branded goods and products, there is a market to sell people fake goods. This is something that many criminals and criminal operators have jumped on, and this means that when someone thinks they are getting a great deal, they may be contributing to money laundering!
Fake cosmetics pose many dangers
The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit carried out a major operation in the middle of May when they descended upon the home of a couple from West London. The officers seized thousands of pounds worth of fake cosmetics. The officers took products such as hair straighteners and what they believed was 250 imitation perfume brands and bottles. A 46 year old woman and a 52 year old man are suspected of selling these items online. The products are presented as the original items and they are sold at a huge mark-up, which clearly legitimises illegal money and provides profits for all of the parties involved with the crime.
One of the detectives involved with the case, Det Supt Maria Woodall released a statement, saying; “Criminals are quick to deceive unsuspecting shoppers using stock images and professional looking websites, but if you do your research and look deeper you can help yourself from becoming a victim. The website concerned today had some tell-tale signs it wasn’t the real deal. The site had spelling mistakes and the contact details were minimal – a mobile number and a free email address. If you are unsure about a website, trust your instincts. Genuine luxury items are rarely heavily discounted, so do not rush and be fooled into believing you are getting a good deal.”
Money laundering may be the least of your worries if you buy these goods
While people should be concerned about fake cosmetic products and the potential danger that can arise from their use, some tested products have been found to contain rat droppings, poison and human urine; there are other concerns about the products. There has been a lot of research and investigation carried out into the people supplying these goods and there is a lot to be said for the products being sold to launder money and support other criminal activities. There is also the fact that the fake goods breach Trade Marks and are quite often the foundation for a fraud case.
It is believed that shoppers in the United Kingdom spend close to £100 in fake cosmetics on an annual basis. Det Supt Maria Woodall also said; “Criminals are exploiting every opportunity to fool customers into buying counterfeits in order for them to make some quick cash, putting people’s health, homes and lives at risk. If it seems too good to be true then it probably is. Not only could these products have serious implications for your health and wellbeing but by simply going online and buying from a rogue site or dealer, your personal and financial information is at risk.”
With fake goods not coming up to the same standards as you would expect from the genuine products, customers are not only getting ripped off, they could be placing their health at risk. When you add in the fact that their purchases may provide support for money laundering and other criminal activity, it becomes clear that buying goods online is not always the fantastic option that many people believe it to be.