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13 November 2014
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Fake shoes

Faking it - counterfeit goods on sale.

Fake goods

Everyone loves a bargain, especially when it's got a designer label attached. But it seems that there are plenty of people in the Midlands who don't care if that label is real or not. We investigate the trade in counterfeit goods.

Around 40% of people in the Midlands think it's perfectly acceptable to buy fake designer clothes according to figures from the Anti-Counterfeiting Group.

And apparently some think it's fine to sell them too.

John Martin and the team of Birmingham Trading Standards Officers have seen a tenfold increase in fakes coming into the city in the last few years.

"Last year we seized over £2 million worth of counterfeit products and this year we're heading the same way," he says.

Growing problem

It's a trend that's showing no signs of stopping - like many cities, Birmingham is often used as distribution centre for counterfeit goods.

Trading standards

Trading standards - raiding fake goods.

But thanks to the work of trading standards, it's now getting harder to find fake designer clothes on sale.

Acting on a tip off, Inside Out has been on a shopping spree at a store in Birmingham where virtually everything on sale was illegal.

We bought trainers, T-Shirts and track suits and took them to trading standards where John Martin told us they all appear to be fake.

John explains: "If you don't go to an authorised outlet, a well known retail store or whatever else, then there is always a chance.

"Obviously the majority of shops don't sell counterfeit goods, but some do…"

Counterfeit trading

But the items we saw make up just a tiny fraction of the millions, even billions of fake items being manufactured each year… and most of them come from the other side of the world

Three billion pounds worth of counterfeit clothes were sold in the UK in 2007 alone.

That means the country is losing tens of millions of pounds in unpaid taxes.

Ruth Orchard

Tackling counterfeiting - Ruth Orchard.

There's also the added problem that the fakes the pubic is buying are hardly high quality goods.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group has been tackling the fake trade of goods on behalf of legitimate business for the last 20 years.

But quality aside, there are real concerns about the international criminal gangs who are profiting from the sale of counterfeit goods.

Ruth Orchard from the Anti-Counterfeiting Group tells us where the cash goes:

"They are using the profits that they make to fund other serious organised crime, drugs, guns and people smuggling.

"Interpol has even reported evidence that profits have been laundered and sent to Hamas and Hezbollah in the Middle-East, so we are talking terrorism as well."

Stamping out the fakes

But with the world-wide counterfeit clothing industry apparently booming, is there any hope of stamping out the fake trade altogether in the Midlands?

John Martin and Ashley Blake

Fake hunt - John Martin and Ashley Blake.

"We are fighting a battle, it's a long war… we win battles, but whether we can win the war is probably an international question," says John Martin.

There's no doubt the authorities in the Midlands have got their work cut out, but it's still rare to find someone with the cheek to actually open a shop full of fake designer clothes.

However, the public can help by being vigilant and avoiding buying fakes. 

Spotting fakes - top tips...

To avoid getting ripped off and buying counterfeit goods, check for tell-tale signs:

* Examine the goods carefully. The quality of materials used and printing is often inferior for counterfeit goods.

* Be suspicious of clothing with no or poor quality labels, poor quality printing or embroidery of logos.

* Sometimes designer badges have a slightly different, simplified design.

* Be wary of goods with prices that are too good to be true.

For more information

For information or advice on counterfeit goods visit:

last updated: 29/10/2008 at 13:48
created: 29/10/2008

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