The volume of international trade in counterfeit products is estimated to be worth around US$464 billion, which amounts to around 2.5% of world trade. Counterfeit products are the second biggest source of criminal income globally.
Black Friday provides an ideal online environment for counterfeiters to take advantage of shoppers looking for deals, when the market is flooded with offers making it difficult to spot what is real and what is fake. Research by Barclays Bank showed that purchase scam losses increased by 22% during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales last year and victims lost an average of £970.
Bad actors will go so far as to create fake websites or social media pages imitating real brands to trick consumers into buying counterfeit products or spending money on goods that simply don't exist. For example, Which? recently identified two scam websites created in October 2023 purporting to sell heavily discounted electrical goods from Currys. Consumers reported ordering goods through the website and receiving invalid tracking numbers - Currys confirmed that both websites are fake.
Social media influencers can also be duped into promoting fake accounts and websites selling counterfeit goods and offering Black Friday deals, and fake websites can be a disguise for phishing scams.
Counterfeiters can be highly sophisticated, making it extremely difficult for consumers to spot fakes and scams. It is therefore important to be particularly vigilant around Black Friday and Cyber Monday when shopping online and via social media. There is a lot of information available about how to spot and avoid counterfeits and scams this Black Friday - for example, McAfee have provided information on some of the most common types of online scams, TechRadar discussed the problem of fake Amazon reviews, and there are numerous articles across mainstream news platforms (such as The Independent) offering tips on how to avoid falling victim to bogus deals at this time of year.
Counterfeiting is not a victimless crime, and I would urge everyone to be vigilant particularly at this time of year.