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Counterfeit or low standards: victim speaks out over “dangerous” motorbike helmet

  • David, from Northern Ireland, ordered a motorbike helmet online, only to receive a “one size fits all” helmet that looked like a child’s toy
  • The helmet is an example of how to spot whether an item is counterfeit or simply the result of shoddy workmanship
  • City of London Police’s PIPCU said: “It doesn’t take much to imagine the damage that could be done if this helmet was worn by a rider involved in even a minor accident.”

A man from Northern Ireland has spoken out about receiving a “dangerous” motorbike helmet that he believed to be counterfeit.

David contacted the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in late October 2018 to report the helmet which he has described as being like a child’s toy. However, PIPCU found that the helmet was not a counterfeit, but an example of poor standards. It has no recognised safety standard markings.

The helmet is an example to online shoppers of the difference between an item that is counterfeit and one that is not.

Counterfeit or not?

A counterfeit item will use a logo and claim to be from a brand, usually well-known and highly sought after. Items that do not claim to be from a genuine brand are not counterfeit.

Both counterfeits and poorly constructed items can be unsafe as they do not adhere to safety standards. Trading Standards are responsible for investigating sub-standard items. A motorcycle helmet could save your life, it should be the right size and fit properly, always consult an expert before you buy one.

Although David’s helmet is not counterfeit, PIPCU is looking into the website where he bought the helmet as it is believed the site also sells counterfeit items. The site is being investigated as part of PIPCU’s Operation Ashiko to take down websites selling counterfeit products. So far Ashiko has removed over 65,000 counterfeit websites from the web, showing the scale of this issue.

Convincing criminals

The site that David bought from was particularly convincing. It had an "About" page and a customer response page with supposedly glowing reports from satisfied customers. The site also had a returns policy which gave all the expected assurances and the site responded when David enquired about delivery dates.

Following the purchase, David noticed an additional suspicious transaction that had been attempted on his account. His bank recognised it as a fraud and fortunately they were able to prevent money from being taken. His credit card company also returned his money for the helmet.

More at stake

PIPCU warns shoppers that handing over personal banking details to untrusted sites can lead to further fraud being committed and identity crime. When buying items, people will part with details such as their address and financial information which allows fraudsters to set-up new websites selling counterfeit products in their name.

David is now keen to warn other online shoppers to be cautious. He urges people to buy from reputable sellers to avoid the dangers and risks of receiving counterfeit and unsafe products. He said: “The helmet, if you could call it that … has no recognised safety standard at all. At best this is a dangerous, one size fits all toy and I would not let a child ride a push bike with this thing on their head.

“The website was a lesson on how professional these criminals are. It’s so important that people put their safety first and buy from a trusted website. If you can’t be sure the item is genuine, don’t hand over any money.”

Detective Sergeant Kevin Ives of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said: “This is a prime example of the thousands of unsafe items we see every year.

“The safety risks in this case are easy to see and it doesn’t take much to imagine the damage that could be done if this helmet was worn by a rider involved in even a minor accident.

“I would urge shoppers to purchase from a reputable seller. If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research. People will often turn to independent forums and blogs to warn others of untrusted sites.”

Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Lead Officer for Product Safety, Mark Gardiner said: “Motorcycle helmets must conform to safety standards, consumers should look out for the UNECE and BSI safety markings as well as checking the overall quality of the item.  Consumers should always purchase from a reputable retailer”. 

If consumers need advice or to report a problem, they should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

Dr Ros Lynch, Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said: “Cheap goods can often be confused with counterfeits, so David was absolutely right to be suspicious - both can pose a risk to public safety due to poor quality workmanship and inadequate quality and safety checks.

“Counterfeit goods are those made to imitate the look and style of products made by legitimate registered brands. They are sold by rogue traders seeking to make money from other peoples’ ideas and designs.”



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