Staffordshire counterfeit goods seizure prompts sales warning

Some of the items seized in Burntwood.

People are being urged to be vigilant and avoid buying counterfeit goods following a seizure of thousands of items at a Staffordshire property.

Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team seized the haul of counterfeit items – including electrical goods and cosmetics – from a rented room in Burntwood. Other items included fake branded clothes, alcohol and cigarettes. A small quantity of fireworks was also found in a vehicle at the address which had been advertised for sale without the necessary license and storage inspection. All of the items were being advertised on Facebook. Two people are now subject to a joint trading standards and police investigation.

Counterfeit goods are shoddy imitations that will leave people out of pocket and could cause serious harm. Fake electrical goods are hazardous as they can cause fires and electrocution. Harmful substances such as high lead levels in perfume are a risk with counterfeit cosmetics. They are increasingly sold online. Legitimate traders suffer as a result of counterfeit sales; harming the local economy in the process. Money made also helps to fund organised criminal gangs.

Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said:

“This seizure comes as a timely reminder in the run-up to Christmas that people need to be aware of the hazards of counterfeit goods. Thankfully the goods seized here cannot now end up in people’s homes. More and more counterfeit goods are now being sold online, particularly on social media sites and so people need to be vigilant. Counterfeit cosmetics and electrical goods were found at this property and these in particular can be very dangerous and should be avoided.

“These items are increasingly hard to detect just to look at, so when something is being sold at a knock-down price, people should be extremely wary. It is always best to buy from reputable traders. We always say that if something is too good to be true, it usually is. In addition to damaging Staffordshire businesses, counterfeit goods sales help to line criminals’ pockets. Buying counterfeit goods as a gift could really ruin someone’s Christmas – not only are they shoddy and substandard, they can be lethal.”

Some of the hidden dangers of counterfeit goods include:

• Counterfeit alcohol such as vodka contains dangerous chemicals which can cause may health problems such as blindness

• Counterfeit perfume can often burn skin or leave a nasty rash and may contain lead

• Fake sunglasses often offer no UVA protection, causing eye damage

• Illicit tobacco is unregulated and cigarettes can be a fire risk as they do not burn out like legitimate products

• Counterfeit children’s toys can often be unsafe with unsuitable small parts and children’s clothes may be inflammable.

The Burntwood operation took place on Friday.