St. Louis, Mo., May 25, 2018 – The Consumer Fraud Task Force is advising consumers to be careful when shopping online so that they do not purchase counterfeit goods.According to a study done by the International Trademark Association, the estimated value of international and domestic trade in counterfeit and pirated goods was $1.13 trillion in 2013. The group believes that by 2022 the total estimated value of counterfeit and pirated goods is projected to reach between $1.9 and $2.81 trillion. According to the ITA, more than $460 billion in counterfeit goods were sold in 2016 in the United States.Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report for 2017 showed online purchase scams as the top-ranked scam reported by U.S. and Canadian consumers. Clothing, cosmetics and electronics were among the most-reported items purchased in the Scam Tracker reports. Consumers reported a median loss of $100 to online purchase scams.Here are some recent examples of counterfeit scams:Special agents with the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Unit in March 2018 arrested four people in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to the indictment, the suspects marketed and sold numerous purported dietary supplements for male enhancement or weight loss. The suspects allegedly sold counterfeit cosmetics as well. The suspects were charged with mail and wire fraud conspiracy, mail fraud, trafficking in counterfeit goods, introducing misbranded articles into interstate commerce, distribution of a controlled substance, international money laundering and smuggling.In February 2018, officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the seizure of more than 170,000 counterfeit sports- and entertainment-related items as part of a year-long effort dubbed “Operation Team Player.” The goods had an estimated value of $15.69 million. The joint investigation by ICE, Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection led to 65 arrests and 24 convictions.BBB St. Louis issued a consumer warning in January 2018 on a business consumers said was selling counterfeit National Football League merchandise. The business used a bogus address in Chesterfield, Mo., as its headquarters. Consumers told BBB the business sold knock-off merchandise and would not issue requested refunds.In order to protect yourself from buying counterfeit goods, the task force offers the following tips:Know your seller. Try to shop at a brand’s own store or website or at an authorized dealer for the product. Ensure that any website you’re shopping is legitimate: Hover over links, make sure spelling and grammar is professional and double-check the URL and logo. It is easy for scammers to create a fake website imitating a brand in an attempt to lure consumers.Avoid deals that are too good to be true. If you see an ad for something at an alarmingly low price, be careful. Large discounts could signal a counterfeit item. Don’t click on ads you see online or follow links in unsolicited emails. Beware the online marketplace. When you purchase goods from online marketplaces, you don’t have the opportunity to inspect the item before buying it. This increases the odds of it being counterfeit. If possible, inspect the item in person, and take it to an expert if it’s a big-ticket item like art or jewelry.Make sure it is licensed. When buying sports merchandise, find authentic licensed goods from official retailers and resellers on the official website of your favorite team or league. Authentic apparel will always have the correct fonts, colors and spelling, attached tags will usually have hologram stickers, and there won’t be any loose threads or other signs of poor quality.Report it. If you believe you have purchased counterfeit goods, do not resell the item. You are legally entitled to a refund or legitimate version, no matter what the seller’s return policy is. Also file complaints with BBB, the state attorney general, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. If you believe you have found counterfeit merchandise online, report it to the FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center.Formed in October 2002, the Task Force is a coalition of local, state and federal government agencies and nonprofit business and consumer groups in Missouri and Illinois that work together to protect consumer and donor rights and guard against fraud. The group has tackled predatory payday loan offers, tax scams, timeshare reselling fraud, credit repair and foreclosure scams, bogus sweepstakes, Internet sweetheart scams, phony grant scams, home remodeling, air duct cleaning schemes and a variety of other issues. To obtain information, or to report a scam, you may contact members of the Task Force:Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern and Southwest Missouri and Southern Illinois – (888) 996-3887; www.bbb.org.Federal Trade Commission – (877) FTC-HELP (382-4357); www.ftc.gov.Illinois Attorney General – (800) 243-0618; www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.Missouri Attorney General – (800) 392-8222; www.ago.mo.gov.U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Missouri – (314) 539-2200; www.usdoj.gov/usao/moe.U.S. Postal Inspection Service – (877) 876-2455; postalinspectors.uspis.gov.U.S. Secret Service – (314) 539-2238; www.secretservice.gov.