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19 December 2012, 07:46 | Updated: 19 December 2012, 07:48
Hampshire Trading Standards is warning Christmas shoppers to be careful not to fall for fakes if tempted to buy cheap products from car boot sales, internet auctions and other websites, as gifts.
Every year Trading Standards officers seize thousands of fake designer goods including cosmetics, jewellery, clothing and accessories, handbags, camera batteries, watches, electrical items, boots, shoes and trainers as well as fake DVDs, music CDs, tobacco, cigarettes, alcohol and children's toys.
Heart's being told fake goods not only cost the economy billions of pounds a year but that they are often made from inferior materials, can be dangerous, and could result in injury or even death.
Fake vodka or whisky for example, may contain high levels of methanol, a chemical that can cause blindness. Counterfeit cosmetics and perfumes can often contain untested and harmful substances that may burn the skin or leave a nasty rash. Fake electrical items may seem like a bargain but they can be electrically unsafe and could overheat, explode or burn out quickly.
In Hampshire, Trading Standards officers regularly visit car boot sales and markets, and trawl the internet to protect consumers and legitimate traders across the county and crack down on the problem, which every year costs legitimate UK businesses in excess of £11billion. UK border officers have also just taken £5million worth off fake goods off the market.
Traders found selling counterfeit goods could be arrested and may face prosecution as well the confiscation of the monetary proceeds of their criminal activity.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber said:
"As many people look to spend less over the festive period, there is the temptation to look for those bargain gifts. However, the advice from Trading Standards is to avoid buying fake goods this Christmas. Some of the products seized by officers this year, from all over the county, were not just poor quality, but they were also dangerous.
"Make sure that you're buying from a trustworthy source and avoid internet auctions offering designer goods at bargain prices. If a deal sounds too-good-to-be-true, then it usually is."
Anyone who has bought a product they think might be fake, or knows of someone selling counterfeit products, should report the seller to Hampshire County Council Trading Standards by calling the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.