Counterfeit goods are removed from a shop in this file image. Online shoppers need to be aware they could be buying fake goods. African News Agency (ANA) Archives
DURBAN - About 30% of consumers are unknowingly purchasing fake goods when making online purchases, according to the Global Online Shopping Survey.

The survey says counterfeiters are cashing in on this growing form of shopping as many see counterfeiting as a harmless and victimless crime, but this was not the case.

“It has far-reaching consequences, and negatively affects brands, consumers and the economy at large. From a brand point of view there is the loss of revenue, loss of customer trust and loss of market confidence. For consumers, many are duped into buying fake goods, which means they’ve lost their money and could even be placing themselves at risk.”

The study added that as many as 45% of online shoppers were worried that they might be buying counterfeit goods, while 49% intentionally purchased fake goods.

“There is a counterfeit market for almost everything; from apparel and accessories, footwear and luggage, to cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, electronics and toys. Fake cosmetics and pharmaceuticals can have a significant impact on health, while counterfeit electric goods and toys can pose a risk to health and safety.”

Paul Ramara of Partner, Spoor & Fisher, an anti-counterfeiting practice, said a large number of South Africans relied on online shopping.

“According to PayPal, almost 70% of all active online adults in South Africa made use of online shopping, spending an estimated R45.3 billion till the end of 2018.”

He said people should know that they may be assisting in the commissioning of crime when purchasing counterfeit goods.

“They should also know that they are part of a wider scheme funding organised crime, which is generally associated with human trafficking, drugs and illegal firearm trade. According to the World Health Organisation 100 000 deaths a year are linked to counterfeit drug trade.”

Ramara said South Africa is one of the few countries that has special legislation dealing with counterfeits.