With more than £8bn set to be spent over Black Friday and Cyber Monday the public are being reminded to shop savvy and avoid online scams.
Over the past few years there has been an explosion in the amount of goods sold either in person or online in the run up to the festive period, taking advantage of large discounts offered by retailers.
Shoppers wanting to snap up discounts do so in their droves, but as this shopping phenomenon has grown, criminals have upped their game in a bid to cheat people out of their hard-earned money. Fake and dangerous goods have infiltrated the market, many of which could pose serious harm to the public.
In the past year Manchester City Council has seized fake goods which could have posed a serious risk to the safety of members of the public if sold. There were plastic items which contained potentially dangerous chemicals if ingested, children’s toys which exceeded the legally safe decibel limit, and Christmas lights which did not meet electrical safety standards.
This year alone the Council's Trading Standards Team have seized more than 25,000 counterfeit or unsafe items that would otherwise have been sold to the public.
As well as genuine safety concerns in connection to fake goods, their sale often funnels money straight into the pockets of organised criminal gangs. It is easy to think that buying a knock off item online or in a shop is harmless; it is anything but. The people who supply fake goods have links to drug crime, human trafficking and exploitation and serious violent crime.
Councillor Rabnwaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Every year there is a huge incentive for the public to take advantage of the deals served up by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is a scam. Our advice is that if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
“It is our job as a council to help keep our residents safe, and with UK Customs estimating 37% of fake goods entering the UK pose a risk to the public, we can’t stress enough the importance of making sure you know where you are buying from.
“To find out how to spot the signs of fake goods, visit the Anti-Counterfeiting Group’s website at www.a-cg.org.”