Thursday 13 October 2011

Holidaymakers warned on fake goods


Holidaymakers have been urged to avoid buying counterfeit goods abroad in a bid to crack down on serious organised crime. Gangs use the trade in fake goods to fund areas such as human trafficking, firearms and illegal drugs. Officers from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) are at Glasgow Airport to drive home the message and show people examples of fake goods. Detective Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin, from the SCDEA, said: "The trade in fake goods is not a victimless crime; there is no such thing. It is linked to a bigger and more serious picture. Those who are involved in this illegal activity are very often also responsible for peddling drugs in our communities, forcing people into the sex trade and trading in firearms. "We are all tempted by a bargain, but the fake goods that you see at markets at home and abroad - such as football shirts, handbags, watches and sunglasses - are being sold to raise funds for organised crime groups. We live in a global marketplace and criminals have no regard for international boundaries, so it could mean that the cash you spend at markets on holiday is being used to fund drug dealing in your local area. "In addition, many of these products are dangerous because they are produced with no regard for health and safety regulations, so you could be putting your safety at risk by using items such as fake electrical goods, cigarettes and alcohol." The UK Border Agency works to uncover fake goods coming into the UK. Murdo MacMillan, assistant director for the agency in Scotland, said: "UK Border Agency officers operate 24 hours a day at ports, airports and mail sorting centres to prevent fake goods hitting the UK's streets, where they can be bought by unsuspecting members of the public. Many people enjoy finding a bargain but counterfeit goods are just the tip of the criminal iceberg." Mr Megaughin said: "There are some signs people can look for to help spot a fake. Price, place and packaging are all indicators of whether something is genuine or not. It is unlikely that genuine designer brands would be on sale at market stalls, and if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. "We are urging people to think very carefully before buying these products. It is up to all of us to help tackle this problem and reduce the impact of serious organised crime. The public can help by deciding not to buy fake goods."