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PIPCU urges consumers to shop savvy as they crackdown on counterfeits this Christmas

This Christmas, the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is urging last-minute Christmas shoppers to shop savvy and spot the signs of counterfeits to avoid disappointing loved ones. 

The warning comes as officers from PIPCU executed a search warrant at an address in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire on 19 December 2017, in which around £100,000 worth of luxury clothing from brands including Calvin Klein were seized.

A man, aged 38 from Borehamwood, was arrested for selling goods with unauthorised trademarks.

The operation was initiated following a report from a key industry partner.

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court, of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said:

“We work closely with our partners to disrupt the sale of counterfeit goods which put consumers at harm in many ways. 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 dangers of buying fake goods should not be underestimated. As shoppers look for last-minute gifts and bargains online, it is vital that you take extra care and check where you buy from. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

A spokesperson for Calvin Klein said:

“Calvin Klein takes any infringement of its intellectual property rights very seriously. Through our global enforcement program, we work closely with local law enforcement agencies around the world to minimise the adverse impact of counterfeiting on the consumer. In this case, we are especially grateful to the City of London Police - and their Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) - who have carried out a first class investigation and enforcement operation.”

Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Ros Lynch, said:

“Partnership working is vital in the fight against intellectual property crime, so it’s great to hear that through collaboration with PIPCU and the Intellectual Property Crime Unit enforcement action has been taken and £100,000 worth of goods seized.

Protecting consumers from the dangers of counterfeit goods is vital. This enforcement action helps to do this, but it’s also important that we educate consumers about the dangers involved in buying counterfeit goods as there can be serious safety implications.

The IPO echoes the advice given by PIPCU on how to stay safe when shopping online and is also working to educate consumers at this time of year through our 12 Fake Days of Christmas campaign.”

Keep safe this Christmas and follow PIPCU’s advice and tips for safe online shopping:

  • 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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