Shoppers beware: counterfeit products could end up in your holiday shopping basket

A recent Toronto police investigation turned up over $2.5M in counterfeit products.
A recent Toronto police investigation turned up over $2.5M in counterfeit products. (Photo: REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen)

With the holidays less than two weeks away, many people are busy shopping for their loved ones. Often on holiday shoppers’ lists are brand name items but given their heavy price tag, people often try to bargain hunt. Unfortunately, that means they could end up with a counterfeit product.

Just last week, a Toronto, Ont. police investigation into counterfeit goods has resulted in the discovery of over $2.5 million worth of fake products, including Kylie Jenner makeup, Thomas the Tank Engine toys and Magic Bullet blenders.

Toronto Police also captured a whopping $12 million worth of fake goods last year around the holiday shopping season, which featured knock-offs of popular brands like Gucci, Louis Vitton, Michael Kors and Ugg.

Pop-up stores and markets can easily feature fake brand products.. These fake products can also be found online, where a brand name purse that usually costs $1,000 can be found for $50.

In Canada, it is illegal to sell counterfeit goods. Just two years ago, the government passed the Combating Counterfeit Products Act, which makes it a crime to sell, distribute, possess, import or export fake goods. Those caught trading in counterfeit goods face not only fines but also possible jail time.

Regardless of the recent act and harsh penalties, scammers continue selling counterfeit products to unwitting customers.

Some signs that a product you have your eye on may be fake are:

  • If you are not buying from a well-known retailer, and there are dramatic price drops for products, especially products like watches, electronics and purses;
  • Look at the product packaging. It should have seller/manufacturer contact information, the packaging should be of good quality and contain no spelling mistakes;
  • The products themselves are poorly made, lack name brand or certification; and
  • If you are shopping online and a website seems fishy because it contains spelling mistakes and/or doesn’t have seller business and contact information, you may want to shop somewhere else.
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