Counterfeit goods have long been associated with high-end fashion and luxury goods — think Ferragamo shoes and Louis Vuitton handbags. But increasingly, fakes are popping up in everything from soccer jerseys to books to bicycle helmets.
In July, the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the growing problem of counterfeit goods. The big takeaway: US e-commerce sites lag behind their international peers in combating counterfeit goods, and consumers struggle to tell the difference between real products and fakes when shopping online.
According to the Better Business Bureau, one in four people has bought a product from the internet that turned out to be counterfeit — low-quality products that have been altered to look like a brand name item and often involve the unauthorized use of logos, labels, or trademarks.
Steve Baker, an international investigations specialist at the Better Business Bureau, says sales of everyday counterfeit goods like light bulbs, batteries, and printer cartridges have exploded over the last 10 years.
“With counterfeiting, a lot of people still think about fake handbags at a flea market,” Baker says. “But we’ve moved way past those days. Anything you can buy online is being counterfeited.”