UK campaign targets fake beauty products

Counterfeit perfume factoryA public awareness campaign in the UK is warning the public to beware of counterfeit goods such as make-up, perfume, electrical hair stylers and sun-cream.

The 'Wake up - don't fake up! Campaign - organised by the City of London's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is supported by Electrical Safety First, a charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents.

"Many people don’t know about the real dangers counterfeit beauty products pose to their health," commented Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall of PIPCU, which last year dismantled a ring suspected of involvement in the import and sale of counterfeit beauty products.

The operation resulted in the seizure of a shipping container holding knockoffs of one of the UK’s most popular beauty brands, including foundation, bronzer, lip gloss, eye shadow and eyebrow pencils.

Often counterfeit make-up is produced in unhygienic conditions (see image) and there have been cases where rats' droppings and poison - including arsenic - have been found in the fake cosmetics.

"Not only could these products have serious implications to your health and wellbeing but by simply going online and buying from a rogue site or dealer, your personal and financial information is at risk," she added.

PIPCU is aware of incidents in which people who have bought fake goods online have subsequently discovered that their details were used to set up hundreds of sites selling illegal goods.

In the UK it is estimated that consumers spend at least £90m every year on fake good, according to the unit.

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