ABOUT CONS OF XMAS
Copyright 2001 www.ft.com
[ December 5th 2001 ]
are being asked to watch out for the so-called
12 cons of Christmas in a bid to catch criminals
behind a multimillion pound bonanza of fakes.
A Crimestoppers campaign launched today urges
conned shoppers to turn in the crooks - with a
reminder that behind illegal street traders are
big-time criminal gangs with potential profits
running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
counterfeit industry runs alongside legitimate
retailing so the run-up to Christmas is the chance
for crooks to shift a lot of fake gear. The masterminds
behind the fakes business are smart, and study
the market to produce their own versions of the
most popular gifts.
year, according to manufacturer victims, the 12
cons of Christmas will be: Children's favourites.
Watch out for fake Harry Potters in many forms
- games, dolls, clothing. Also on the counterfeiters'
list are Star Wars, Bob The Builder, The Tweenies
and Lord Of The Rings. As well as being cheap
imitations, some of the toys will fall apart and
are potentially dangerous for small children.
clothing with logos - baseball caps and sweatshirts
with well-known names like Ferrari and Guinness
printed on them. Instead of the real thing these
are likely to have been manufactured in an East
End sweat shop. Football team replica outfits.
Computer games such as Lara Croft, Pro Evolution
Soccer. They may look real but are they going
to work? Designer-label clothing - especially
fleeces this year, with Chanel and Calvin Klein
labels particular favourites.
and luxury goods - be wary of brands appearing
to be Rolex, Gucci, Nike and leather goods like
Louis Vuitton. Fake perfume and cosmetics - an
old favourite, and a great moneyspinner for the
gangs since lookalike bottles are so easy to make
and filled with little more than water. Music
- fake CDs and cassettes packaged to look like
the real thing. Trainers - if they seem incredibly
cheap they are almost certainly not a real bargain.
software - the only guarantee is that it won't
work. Films - pirated videos have always been
a big money spinner but the growing boom in DVDs
makes them a lucrative source of income for the
fakers. A Christmas drink - even your seasonal
tipple could be fake. Some of the items - such
as the fake Mot et Chandon champagne doing the
rounds may be harmless sparkling wine. However,
some fake vodka can cause blindness. Another thing
to avoid is alcopop - made from antifreeze.
Anderson, of the manufacturers' Anti-Counterfeiting
Group, said: 'One of the primary aims of the Crimestoppers
anti-counterfeiting campaign is to shake members
of the public out of the misplaced belief that
counterfeiting doesn't hurt anybody.' There are,
anti-counterfeiters say, fake Pokmon watches which
could choke a small child and Star Wars toys with
dangerous levels of lead in the paint. During
Christmas 1998, trading standards officers in
Scotland seized Pounds 15 million worth of counterfeit
brake shoes - made of compressed grass.
fake clothing - including Teletubbies items -
have in the past been found to pose a fire hazard
to anybody wearing them. About a half of all fake
toys and perfumes are sold at Christmas. And about
a third of all fakes overall are sold at this
time of year.
businesses lose about Pounds 9 billion a year
to the counterfeiters. Organised criminals can
afford to invest in fakery. They can buy concentrated
fragrance in industrial amounts and mix them up
to approximate famous brands. It only costs a
few pence to produce the goods, and they can turn
in a hefty profit.
same way they bulk-buy 'blank' sweatshirts. The
gangs get someone in the rag trade with a computerised
embroidery machine to copy a designer logo and
attach it to the blank. The gangs can even respond
to market demands by ordering up extra copies
of labels which sold particularly well the previous
weekend. If you come across a Christmas con you
can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.