The Department for the Economy's Trading Standards Service (T.S.S.) has taken action after receiving reports of counterfeit goods being sold locally.
A number of premises were visited and goods seized after confirmation that they were found to be counterfeit. Among those items seized were fakes of the ‘must-have’ Christmas toy for 2017, L.O.L Surprise Dolls, as well as Lego Mini figures.
Counterfeit toys are not subject to the same tests as the genuine ones which are tested in accordance with legal safety requirements. The counterfeits are a potential risk as the parts may come off or the paint used may be unsafe to the user.
Chief Inspector at the T.S.S., Damien Doherty said: “The seizure of these counterfeit goods in the run-up to Christmas will help ensure that both consumer and legitimate businesses alike will not suffer at the hands of unscrupulous individuals. Fake goods are not only poorly made, but in some cases can be dangerous. In order to minimise the risk of purchasing fake products, consumers should always ensure they buy from a reputable trader. Although a website may have a ‘co.uk’ address, this does not mean the trader is based in the UK and the goods may be sent from the Far East.
"Many consumers think that they are getting a bargain by purchasing cut-price, counterfeit goods. In reality, they are increasingly putting themselves or, in this case, their children at risk.”
T.S.S. is warning consumers, including any ‘last-minute’ shoppers, to keep an eye out for fake L.O.L dolls. Genuine products should say ‘MGA Entertainment Inc.’ or MGA’ on the outside packaging.
Legitimate products are called ‘L.O.L Surprise’ and not L.Q.L or any other variation. Shoppers should also be cautious of unfamiliar sellers based outside the UK and to only purchase locally from trusted retailers.
Consumerline has also reported calls from consumers complaining that the branded goods such as trainers and cosmetics they have bought online as presents are clearly poor quality fakes.
Cosmetics such as make-up and mascara, perfume can contain high levels of lead and mercury, while electrical items can catch fire.
Although it can be very difficult to identify a fake from a genuine product, especially if the goods are sold online or via auction sites, consumers can use the following tips from Trading Standards to make sure an item is genuine:
Price - if goods are being sold at a much cheaper price than you would pay for it on the high street then it may be fake.
Location - if you see substantial quantities of brand name goods at car boot sales or markets then they are highly likely to be fake.
Examine the goods - Check for spelling mistakes, poor quality packaging and a lack of protective sealing.
Fake goods will look, smell and feel different from the genuine article.
Damien Doherty continued: “Unfortunately, many websites now sell their fake goods at prices only slightly cheaper than the real articles which leads consumers to believe that the goods, while competitively priced, are genuine.”
If consumers are thinking about making a purchase from a website unknown to them they should exercise extreme caution, especially if prices are low. Search for independent reviews from other consumers as these often act as a warning sign.
Consumers who suspect they may have purchased counterfeit goods should contact the Trading Standards Service Consumerline helpline on 0300 123 6262 (9.00am to 4.00pm) or by email to email@example.com