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01/03/2007

Warning of real cost of fake goods

Counterfeit goods valued in excess of £3 million pounds were seized in Northern Ireland during the last nine months of 2006, delegates at an anti-counterfeiting seminar in Belfast have heard.

The effects of this illegal trade are widespread and expose consumers to substandard and dangerous products, the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) warned.

Security Minister and Chair of the OCTF Paul Goggins, MP said: “Everyone needs to be aware of the real cost of buying fake and frequently shoddy, harmful and dangerous products.

“Counterfeiting is a major challenge facing all of us and it poses a major threat to business and consumers throughout Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a conference organised by the OCTF and the ACG and attended by 150 brand security managers, lawyers, police, customs and trading standards officers, ACG’s Manager, Alison Newbold, said: “Product counterfeiting hits everyone in the pocket: legitimate businesses lose sales, which means fewer jobs; the treasury loses revenue, which means less funding for schools, hospitals etc and consumers pay over the odds for poor quality rip-offs with no recourse when the goods fall apart.

“In Northern Ireland, the activities of the Organised Crime Task Force have brought the true criminal nature of counterfeiting, and the damage it causes, into the spotlight. We hope that members of the public will think about this when they are out and about on the streets and markets of Northern Ireland.

“My message to shoppers is if you are tempted to buy a counterfeit, please stop and remember that these goods are not the bargains they may seem, in fact there is a very, very high price to pay.”

According to ACG, counterfeiting costs the UK economy an estimated £10bn per year and is responsible for putting almost 4,100 people out of work.

(JM/SP)

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