Counteract Counterfeiting and Shoddy Knock-offs on the Internet

December 07, 2012

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – December 7, 2012 – Savvy shoppers are always searching for ways to save money, especially during the holiday season. Unfortunately, when shopping for special gifts, it is important for bargain-hunters to beware of counterfeit products. If the prices seem too good to be true for luxury brands on the internet, the goods may actually be shoddy knock-offs!

According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security, the total domestic value of merchandise seized during 2011 was $178.9 million; an amount that would have had a value of $1.1 billion had it been legitimate. The report lists the top 10 types of counterfeit products seized as pharmaceuticals, health/personal care, eyewear/parts, critical technology components, electronic articles, cigarettes, perfumes/colognes, batteries, exercise equipment and transportation/parts.

“Online classified sites such as Craigslist or eBay are popular methods for scammers to sell counterfeit items to unsuspecting consumers and both sites offer ‘buyer beware’ warnings,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “But vendors are also setting up their own websites to trick frugal shoppers into purchasing counterfeit items.”

The Better Business Bureau is encouraging buyers to combat product counterfeiting and intellectual property theft. When shopping for deals on designer and luxury goods, BBB offers the following advice for shopping safely:

  • Always deal with reputable businesses. The number one way to avoid getting ripped off when buying luxury goods is to deal with reputable businesses. When in doubt, shoppers can contact the manufacturer and verify which vendors are authorized sellers. Consumers should also check out the company’s BBB Business Review at before making a purchasing decision.

  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. One of the biggest red flags for knock-off merchandise is an unrealistic price. Extremely low prices are tempting, but not to be believed. Paying $100 for a $1,000 purse could result in the consumer receiving a poorly constructed and worthless fake.

  • Read between the lines. Some websites or online classified ads will go overboard in their description of the item in order to coax the buyer’s trust. Overuse of “genuine,” “real” or “authentic” is a bad sign. Buyers also need to keep an eye out for sneaky phrases like “inspired by.”

  • Check the merchandise. Considering that the name is a large part of the motivation for buying a luxury item, many manufacturers spend considerable time and energy on crafting the physical label. Counterfeiters aren’t usually as meticulous. Shoppers should look for misspelled words and brand names, poorly sewn logos and labels, etc. Some luxury goods carry an “authenticity label” with a hologram or other security measure.

  • Know the brand. Different luxury brands, such as purses, have specific hardware consumers can rely on to identify a genuine piece. Zippers, screws, clasps and stitching are usually very specific for a brand and the manufacturer often has details on its website explaining what to look for and how to spot a knock-off. Craftsmanship is king for most luxury brands. If the sunglasses snap in two in the first week or if the stitching and seams are ragged and don’t match up on a purse, the items are probably counterfeit.

Consumers who have purchased counterfeit luxury goods can file a complaint with BBB and can also contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission to file a complaint there as well. For more consumer tips and information you can trust, visit


About the BBB System

BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 114 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit for more information about the BBB System.