Dangers Of Counterfeit Goods: Untested, Imitated Products Can Endanger Buyers

With a crippled economy, people are encumbered with having to discern needs and wants more critically. However, authorities caution people away from knowingly purchasing counterfeit items in hopes of saving a little money.

The production and sale of counterfeit goods is a global, costly problem with serious economic and health ramifications for governments, businesses, and consumers. The illegal production of knock-offs happens in virtually every area of food, drinks, clothes, shoes and accessories, pharmaceuticals, electronics, toys, currency, concert tickets, alcohol, cigarettes, toiletries, building materials, and auto parts.

The ramifications of counterfeiting affect everyone as governments and businesses are robbed of tax revenue, business income, and jobs.

You surmise they’re just as good as the name brand one, but faked products, not including legitimate generics, but actual fakes can pose real danger to buyers. These items do not undergo quality control and testing standards. The product itself is often poorly constructed and breaks easily, and counterfeits are often composed of toxic substandard materials.

It’s one thing to know you are paying less for something faux, but what about when you think it’s genuine? Sometimes you think you are purchasing the real thing but are duped into purchasing the fake. This occurs on online auction websites as well as sites that attempt to mimic those representing the legitimate retailer.

As NBC News reports, the criminal trifecta behind counterfeiting: low costs to produce and market, high profitable returned, and minimal penalties enforced. Counterfeiting is believed to cost retailers hundreds of billions of dollars annually, not only from lost revenue. Legitimate industries are forced to hire out independent investigators to research counterfeit copies of their products. These investigators scour street markets and websites, searching for fake vendors. They go undercover at times to accomplish this, posing as overseas buyers interested in spending stacks of money on the ersatz products, buying them for a fraction of what the real ones cost.

Counterfeiters can replicate wines, as some legit bottles can cost thousands of dollars. Blends are used to trick taste, and aging techniques are applied to the label and bottle in hopes of deceiving the onlooker.

One current example of the potential lethality of counterfeiting: Trading standards teams urge drinkers to be suspicious of “bargain” bottles as cheaply distilled alcohol can pose health risks, as reported by The Guardian.

Bottles of fake vodka were seized by officers and tested. They were found to have dangerously high levels of methanol. Methanol is a colorless liquid with a mild alcohol odor. Methanol can be found in anti-freeze and industrial solvents. As the body metabolizes methanol, side effects can include weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision. In cases of accidental or reckless ingestion, methanol poisoning may lead to permanent blindness or death.

In September 26, people died as a result of drinking counterfeit vodka and rum laced with methanol in the Czech Republic. In July 2011, five men were killed in an explosion while they were attempting to distill illegal alcohol in Boston, Lincolnshire.

Stories like this occur globally. Just because this happens elsewhere for now does not mean it can’t somehow end up on a retailer’s shelf, posing as the real thing, a terrible accident waiting to happen.

Caveat emptor: Buyer beware.