‘Epidemic’ of Counterfeit Goods Sold Online: BBB Report

The BBB's "Fakes Are Not Fashionable" report found social media ads are often leading buyers to counterfeit sites, with 24% of Facebook ads for luxury clothing and accessories driving consumers to sites linked to fake goods. Facebook and Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.

"BBB's report finds that any shippable item with a reputation for quality and sizable mark-up is a candidate for counterfeiting," according to the organization. "While counterfeit goods often are reputed to be deeply discounted, in reality, counterfeit sellers regularly use selling prices that are close to the price of the real product, so the prices offered are no longer a signal that the product is counterfeit."

The study found that 88 percent of counterfeit goods are coming from China and Hong Kong via websites thought to be coordinated by international organized crime groups.

"Highly organized crime groups are truly behind these types of counterfeit products," said Steve Bernas with the Better Business Bureau.

In the last three years, the report said the BBB received more than 2,000 complaints and more than 500 scam tracker reports regarding counterfeit products. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center processed 2,249 complaints about counterfeit goods in 2018 alone and the Federal Trade Commission processed 552 complaints.

People under the age of 39 are most likely to get scammed, the report found.

"That being said, many victims do not file complaints, making it difficult to get a firm grasp on how often people pay for goods that are counterfeit or not as advertised," the BBB said.

If you think you've purchased counterfeit goods, the report recommends asking for a refund from your credit card company by calling the customer service number on the back of the card.

You can also report these types of incidents to the following agencies:

National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center

Better Business Bureau

FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IC3)

Federal Trade Commission

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