Inverness holidaymakers warned, don't make fake goods your excess baggage.

Issued by Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency

Passengers jetting off from Inverness Airport this weekend will be warned about the risks of buying fake goods while abroad.

As people prepare to take off for the October break, officers and staff from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) will be at the airport on Saturday 8 October 2011 to highlight the links between fake goods and serious organised crime, and the health and safety risks associated with counterfeit products.

The trade in counterfeit goods - or intellectual property (IP) crime – involves the counterfeiting, piracy and trademark infringement of goods, including designer clothes, handbags, trainers, CDs and DVDs.  Other items that are often forged include sophisticated manufactured goods, such as automotive parts, electrical goods and pharmaceuticals.

Organised crime groups use the trade in fake goods as an opportunity to generate profit and to fund other forms of serious organised crime, including human trafficking, firearms and illegal drugs.

Detective Chief Inspector Ronnie Megaughin, SCDEA said: “The trade in fake goods is not a victimless crime; there is no such thing.  It is linked to a bigger and more serious picture.  Those who are involved in this illegal activity are very often also responsible for peddling drugs in our communities, forcing people into the sex trade and trading in firearms.

“We are all tempted by a bargain, but the fake goods that you see at markets at home and abroad - such as football shirts, handbags, watches and sunglasses – are being sold to raise funds for organised crime groups.  We live in a global marketplace and criminals have no regard for international boundaries, so it could mean that the cash you spend at markets on holiday is being used to fund drug dealing in your local area.

“In addition, many of these products are dangerous because they are produced with no regard for health and safety regulations, so you could be putting your safety at risk by using items such as fake electrical goods, cigarettes and alcohol.”

The SCDEA will have a selection of fake goods at the airport, including fake branded clothing, handbags, hair straighteners, smart phones, tobacco and alcohol.  Officers will be highlighting to people the signs to look out for to spot a fake. 

DCI Ronnie Megaughin added: “There are some signs people can look for to help spot a fake.  Price, place and packaging are all indicators of whether something is genuine or not.  It is unlikely that genuine designer brands would be on sale at market stalls, and if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“We are urging people to think very carefully before buying these products.  It is up to all of us to help tackle this problem and reduce the impact of serious organised crime.  The public can help by deciding not to buy fake goods.”

And it is not just the link with organised crime that should cause alarm, as David MacKenzie, Trading Standards Team Leader with The Highland Council explained:

“We regularly receive complaints and other information about counterfeit products finding their way to the Highlands, often from abroad.

“Consumers should be aware that the counterfeits are poor quality and often dangerous as they are produced with no quality control.  Fake car parts and electrical products present obvious safety risks, and we are concerned that there may have been a recent increase in the supply of other dangerous counterfeits like cigarettes and alcohol.”

7 Oct 2011