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Fake fancy dress warning this Halloween

  • The warning comes in the wake of a search warrant which was executed at four addresses in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill area in August.
  • A large number of fancy dress items of clothing bearing unauthorised trademarks were seized.

Counterfeit fancy dress clothing is not subjected to the same rigorous testing as genuine items and therefore poses a public safety risk to consumers. The risks could involve suffocation, poisoning from untested dyes and colourings and strangulation due to the lack of appropriate fastenings. Furthermore, the packaging of the clothing does not meet safety standards. 

PIPCU is also warning the public that ‘there’s more at stake’ when buying counterfeit Halloween costumes online and that one of the main consequences of buying counterfeit goods on websites, social media and online is identity crime. When buying fake items, people will part with personal details such as their address and financial information which allows fraudsters to set-up new websites selling counterfeit goods in their name.

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court, of the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said:

“We are warning the public that ‘there’s more at stake when it’s a fake’ this Halloween and that buying fake goods can not only pose as a public safety risk, buying from rogue sites can also put your personal and financial information at risk, meaning that criminals can use your identity for malicious means.

“The operational activity carried out in August is an excellent example of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) working closely with our partners to identify and disrupt those who are intent on making money out of counterfeit goods and as such putting consumers at risk of harm.”

Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, Ros Lynch, said:
 
“The dangers of buying fake fancy dress costumes cannot be underestimated, with potentially shocking implications for public safety. With the popularity of fancy dress costumes at this time of year it’s vital that consumers are extra careful and check where they are buying them from.
 
“It’s great to hear that through partnership working, enforcement action has been taken to address this issue. Consumer education also plays a vital role and it’s important for us to work together with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and industry to educate and warn consumers of the dangers involved in buying fake fancy dress costumes.
 
“We echo the advice given by PIPCU and our own Halloween campaign goes some way in helping to address this.”

Don’t get cursed this Halloween

PIPCU is issuing the following consumer advice and tips for safe online shopping this Halloween:

  • Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Legitimate items are rarely discounted, so do not rush and be fooled into believing you are getting a good deal.
  • Check the spelling and grammar on the website and of the URL as often the people behind these sites will try to deceive you by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.
  • Look to see where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address – just because the web address has ‘uk’ do not assume the seller is based in the UK. If there is no address supplied or there is just a PO Box or email, be wary.
  • Only deal with reputable sellers and only use sites you know or ones that have been recommended to you. If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research and check online reviews. People will often turn to forums and blogs to warn others of fake sites.
  • Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage – this indicates a secure payment.
  • Keep security software and firewalls up-to-date.
  • Ask the trader if there is a returns policy or guarantee. Most rogue traders will not offer this.
  • Watch out for pop-ups appearing asking you to confirm your card details before you are on the payment stage. Never enter your PIN online.

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