Fake and illegal goods - what's the harm?

Buying fake and illegal goods such as fake football shirts, fake designer handbags or cheap make up can harm you, your family and your community. Doing so can help fund organised crime gangs including some who call themselves paramilitaries.
In the past year, in Northern Ireland over one hundred of these crime gangs made tens of millions of pounds through this activity.

Fake and illegal goods - community harm

In purchasing any of the items or services listed below your money is helping to fund organised crime gangs, including some who call themselves paramilitaries.

These gangs can be involved in any of the following examples, which may be happening in your area:

  • Armed robbery
  • ATM and card skimming scams
  • ATM physical attack incidents
  • Cash in transit attacks
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Counterfeiting
  • Cyber crime and cyber threats to individuals and businesses
  • Drug dealing and trafficking
  • Extortion, eg businesses having to pay protection money, loan sharking
  • Fraud, such as dating, ticket or holiday fraud
  • Fuel laundering and illegal waste dumping
  • Human Trafficking
  • Illegal weapons
  • Paramilitary activity
  • Prostitution
  • Tiger kidnaps - abduction of a hostage to force another person to facilitate a ransom from a  business or other institution

Further information is available on:

Fake and illegal goods - personal harm

In today's society there are many fake and illegal goods that can be purchased face to face or online.

You might think buying fake goods doesn't cause any harm and saves you money. 

But in reality fake goods can actually harm you, your family and your community.

Below are just some examples of fake and illegal items that you may come across and the potential harm to you and your family of using them.

Fake perfume and aftershave They often contain poisonous chemicals that can cause allergic reactions, such as burning and swelling of the skin, and pose a real danger to your health.
Counterfeit clothing Some people will try to sell you fake clothing, such as replica football kits and designer gear at temptingly low prices. These items are often poor quality and won’t last. They may not meet safety standards such as fire resistance. Fastenings and material are often of an inferior standard. There is no comeback with the seller if any of this is the case. 
Fake make up and beauty products You may think you are getting branded make up at much less than the usual price but  fake products can contain a cocktail of potentially harmful ingredients. These can cause severe allergic reactions and possible long-term harm  to skin, eyes and hair
Fake car parts Very cheap auto parts may be fake and may not meet safety standards. Inferior or fake items like tyres, alloys and brake pads are more likely to fail and risk causing potentially serious accidents or damage to your car. 
Laundered fuel Laundered fuel such as red diesel can cause serious damage to the engine of your vehicle. The dumping of toxic waste can also be hazardous to the environment.
Counterfeit toys Counterfeit toys that have not been manufactured properly can fall apart easily and cause an injury  or choking risk to young children.
Fake cigarettes They pose a greater health risk than ordinary cigarettes as they can contain higher levels of toxic ingredients such as tar, nicotine, carbon monoxide, lead and arsenic.  Their production is not monitored and they could therefore  contain anything. 
Fake jewellery The items are likely to be made from cheap metals. These can cause allergic reactions to the skin. The cheaper metals can discolour and break easily.
Fake or cheap alcohol Very cheap alcohol may be fake and counterfeit beer, wine and spirits can contain ingredients such as  paint stripper that can poison you or be a risk to your health.  Other chemicals used to make fake alcohol include anti-freeze, screenwash and nail polish remover. Counterfeit alcohol can leave you blind or in a coma and can be life threatening .
Fake protein powder and supplements Non regulated or fake products can contain banned or harmful substances  which can pose serious health risks. 
Sky TV - freeview IPTV Sales of internet protocol television (IPTV) packages are illegal and bypass the encryption of programmes by major broadcasters.  This means you risk being charged with theft, fraud or breach of copyright .

Report the sale of fake and illegal goods

If you suspect any criminal activity, including selling fake and illegal goods, you should help end the harm by reporting the incident through one of the following methods:


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