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January 9, 2015

This Valentine's Day, The Real Deal Means More Than a Copy

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The next month will spark a flurry of purchases for Valentine’s Day. Many have already started their search to get that great gift.

For those who are bargain hunters, however, beware of being penny-wise, pound-foolish. There easily can be nothing more unromantic, or potentially harmful, as buying counterfeit goods. When you buy counterfeits, not only does it hurt jobs and the overall economy, and not only have you been ripped off by a shoddy product, but the materials in fake products can be harmful and even deadly. Also at risk during the purchasing process is your financial information, since by their very nature counterfeits exist in the world of criminal activity. Daily Finance's Barbara Thau writes here how to spot counterfeit products when shopping. 

In the U.S., as noted here, some of the most popular counterfeit products seized by enforcement officials include high-tech headphones, sports jerseys, mobile phone accessories, shoes, and fragrances.  

In particular, a look at Valentine's Day's major categories.


We’ve heard the warnings that chocolate prices are on the rise, so beware of “bargains” that may not be the real deal.  When fake Wonka bars began appearing in the UK, this report reminded consumers that if the product’s origins are unknown, then “they cannot be sure that the chocolate was made in hygienic conditions or that the allergen advice was correct.” 

Other Foods

If you're shopping for your foodie friend, know that droughts have also caused an upswing in the price of coffee and olive oil. Beware if you’re looking to save a buck or two on these goods.  

This report on instances of food fraud notes, “criminals offer bargain-hunting shoppers cheap versions of everyday products, including counterfeit chocolate and adulterated olive oil, Jacob’s Creek wine and even Bollinger Champagne.”

Many counterfeit alcoholic products contain methanol, a poison that cause blindness and even death. Get the facts on fake alcohol here


Americans plan to spend over $4 billion on jewelry this Valentine's Day. But fake jewelry may contain hazardous amounts of toxins and chemicals, such as lead.  


This report showed how one down jacket manufacturer found counterfeit products which not only lacked any down, but contained bacteria-laden bird beaks, feet, and whatever was on the floor of the rogue facility. And counterfeit painted leather handbags and wallets could also contain huge levels of lead. 


An ABC news report said: "Active ingredients found in counterfeit fragrance include things like urine, bacteria, antifreeze.” 

To sum up, MIT’s Renee Richardson Gosline notes: 

So when you're shopping for Valentine's Day presents, remember that quality and honesty trump mimicry and counterfeits. Attempting to get luxury products by buying knockoffs will backfire not only for you as the gift giver, but also for the recipient. And that is no gift.

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