Online shoppers warned of scammers this Black Friday

Kenny MacAskill

2017 is set to be the biggest year ever for counterfeit transactions

Thrifty Scots looking for a bargain this Black Friday are being urged to look out for counterfeit goods when shopping online.
The warning follows an in-depth report on the impact of online counterfeit sales commissioned by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), which found that 2017 is set to be the biggest year ever for counterfeit transactions.
The illegal trade of fake goods has a hugely detrimental impact on the UK’s economy, costing millions each year while threatening the livelihood of many hardworking Scots by providing cheaper prices for knock off products.
Sales of everything from clothing and beauty products to medical equipment and tobacco are all at risk of being cloned with shoddy, even dangerous rip offs that harm both the customer and the wider economy.
Serious organised crime, for example human, drug and even weapon trafficking are all set to benefit from the illicit goods trade so it is in the interest of public safety to protect against the rise of e-crime.
Kenny MacAskill, Chair of The Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Group (SAITG), said: “Every year we are seeing more and more people lured into the trap of purchasing counterfeit goods, and now what we are seeing is this trade moving online.
“With websites such as Facebook and Gumtree now being used as a platforms for selling items, more and more Scots are vulnerable to these counterfeit goods, especially at this time of year when people are looking for a bargain.
“These transactions are by no means victimless crimes as they undermine our national economy, putting hardworking individuals out of business.”
National Trading Standards highlighted the scale of this problem in an article published earlier this year, stating that over 4,000 infringing images were removed from Facebook in 2017 as they were suspected as counterfeit goods.
As the illegal trade industry moves online, SBRC expects this Black Friday and festive period to be the biggest year yet for counterfeit transactions.
MacAskill added: “By remaining vigilant online, shoppers can avoid getting caught out. The most important thing to remember is that if it seems too good to be true, more often than not it is.
“Another thing to be wary of is the payment method. Dubious websites are far less likely to have established and secure payment processes such as PayPal. This can be a telltale sign of a high risk website and should be avoided at all costs.
“All in all, shoppers should be sure to spend some time checking out the website before making any hasty payments. Read over the website and pay attention to the language they use especially in the product description.”

Tips for protecting yourself against counterfeit goods

  • Never buy goods from sites such as Silk Road and The Pirate Bay
  • Take extra care when purchasing from sites such as Gumtree and Facebook
  • Always seek a secure method for transactions such as PayPal
  • Look out for language used on the website, for example in product descriptions
  • Be skeptical of sites that offer goods without checks and balances, e.g. no refunds or prescriptions not required for medical goods.
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