Top Tips to Tackle Anti-Illicit Trade

by Melissa Clark

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Anti-Illicit Trade photoConsumers are being is encouraged to play their part in cracking down on Scotland’s fake and illicit goods problem.

Shock cases of paint stripper found in makeup products that can cause blindness, fashion boots made from skinned dogs, perfume containing urine and phoney condoms have all been unveiled as being sold as legitimate products in Scotland.

Now The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), who organised the first Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Summit, have outlined a 10-point action plan to educate consumers on how to spot and avoid dodgy goods


SBRC Director Mandy Haeburn-Little said consumers need to ensure they know what they are buying if they are going to tackle this growing issue – and help protect reputable local businesses.

She said: “To tackle this problem we need people in Scotland to change their perceptions and refuse to buy any illicit or counterfeit product from this day forward.

“Everyone loves a bargain. But people need to stop to think about the true cost of fake goods. Can you be confident that those cheap cigarettes, perfumes and alcohol are actually safe?

“Beyond the concern of safety is a much darker issue of the money generated being used to support child labour, human trafficking and serious organised crime.

“Illicit trade also harms Scottish businesses if people choose to purchase less genuine goods, ultimately putting people out of work.”

The Scottish Anti Illicit Trade Summit brought together – for the first time –  police, trading standards, industry and other agencies to fight the counterfeit and illicit trade gangs operating across the country.

In order for consumers to avoid buying dodgy, and potentially life-threatening, products, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre has compiled a list of top ten tips to help identify if a product is real or fake.


  1. PRICE: Price is usually a good indicator. If something seems too good to be true then it usually is – buyer beware.
  1. REPUTATION: Go to reputable outlets / shops.
  1. LOCATION:  Designer goods are not generally on sale at market stalls so beware of fakes being sold.
  1. SOURCE: Check legitimate sources via Brand-i. This is an independent shopping directory that only lists webstores selling genuine products and is supported by the Trading Standards Institute.
  1. LOOK: When looking at clothing/ footwear/ accessories check the stitching on the garments, especially where any of the labels bearing the designer name has been placed – often fakes have poor quality stitching or the label may be out of alignment. Check the quality of the packaging too as often this does not have the same detail or finish as the genuine product.
  1. WEBSITES: Check website details – websites which appear to be for UK based companies with a  are often based in China and similar areas. You can use services such as Whois / Nominet / CentralOps to check details of server/ registrar.
  1. ERRORS: Look out for spelling mistakes on websites or on goods.
  1. ONLINE Ts & Cs: Copycat websites have been highlighted lately so ensure that you read the small print on websites and their terms and conditions to avoid being conned.
  1. PRIVATE SELLERS: Beware of someone who appears to be a private individual selling numerous brands of goods on social media sites and other online platforms.
  1. PAYMENT METHOD:  If consumers pay by credit card for goods over £100 additional protection via the Consumer Credit Act is provided however if it is a counterfeit site then this does potentially mean that they will have your details.

For more information about tackling anti-illicit trade, visit

Melissa Clark

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