ICCE continues its fight against counterfeiting following a successful anniversary year.
During 2018, ICCE celebrated 20 years of protecting consumers from fake imaging products by continuing to place training, education and collaboration at the heart of its work.
Partnering with law enforcement
Through its training events, ICCE reached out to law enforcement officers across EMEA to offer specialist advice on identifying fake products, including Belarus, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey.
Detective Chief Inspector Teresa Russell, the head of Britain’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), emphasised the importance of the collaboration between industry and law enforcement and the link between counterfeiting and other online crime.
“Most consumers are unaware that when they buy fake goods online they hand over all of their personal details to the criminals and often end up as the victims of identity theft and when it comes to illicit streaming devices, they don’t think about the consequences of malware being inserted into their systems,” explained DCI Russell. “We need to mitigate the threat posed by criminals operating in this arena and change public attitude to protect consumers, brand integrity, jobs and the UK economy.
“The police can’t do this by themselves and that’s why it is crucial we work in partnership with industry.” (link to full article)
Working with partners on the frontline
To mark Intellectual Property Day, ICCE joined law enforcement and brands from across the globe to celebrate the people working day to day in the struggle against counterfeit goods.
ICCE works closely with the UK’s National Trading Standards eCrime Team to protect British consumers from being taken in by fake consumables and associated criminal scams.
Sharon Penketh, a disruption officer with the team described one scam: “Vulnerable people searching for help on how to fix their ink cartridges were being tricked into calling a scammer’s number and then handing over their bank details. One victim was kept on the phone for four hours and lost hundreds of pounds as a result.”
An investigation by ICCE and the eCrime team led to the closing down of the scammer’s fake websites, social media accounts and ranking in Google search results.
“Working with ICCE to stop this scam was quite emotional for me” said Ms Penketh “particularly because of the audience they were targeting.” (link to full article)
Continuing customs training
Customs officers play a crucial role in disrupting the supply of potentially harmful counterfeit goods to consumers. ICCE continued its on-going training programme for customs officers across the EMEA region in 2018.
In March, ICCE released a subtitled training video in the United Arab Emirates to highlight the dangers that fake products pose to legitimate business and retailers. ICCE representatives visited all seven Emirates and provided training to hundreds of customs officers, police and other government workers.
In 2018 ICCE continued its commitment to support printing consumables suppliers by launching a new fact sheet on identifying and reporting fake products.
ICCE member Valerie Whitelaw, Brand Protection Manager for Corporate Security with Xerox featured in Dealer Support magazine to talk about the factsheet.
She said: “Having worked with law enforcement agencies around the world, I’ve seen first-hand the human cost of allowing these illegal supply chains to continue. The best way to protect consumers is for businesses to work together and alert the relevant authorities when they suspect they are being offered fake goods. It’s only through co-operation that we can protect consumers and jobs.”
The changing face of counterfeiting
During an interview with Chris Vansteenkiste, Cluster Manager for Europol’s Anti-Counterfeiting Unit, IPC3 (Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition), ICCE explored how the counterfeiting threat has evolved over the years, particularly with the expansion of the internet.
The Internet offers a direct sales channel to criminals, creating risks for all products. The problem has been exacerbated by a lack of awareness from consumers who don’t realise that any product can be fake, including low value items such as tea or camera batteries.
“Counterfeiters are becoming smarter,” said Chris. “They’re not just focusing on luxury brands like they did in the beginning, they’re focusing on day-to-day consumer goods.
“If you buy a luxury handbag for ten euros, everyone knows it’s fake, but consumers don’t expect fake shampoo or a fake ink cartridge for sale on the internet or in the shops.
“Criminals know that people’s first reaction is, ‘”Why would anyone fake this? These are low price articles.” That’s true, but when they’re traded in large quantities, even if their individual value is low they can still make money by selling large quantities.”
For 2019 new training events for law enforcement agencies and for business are planned for Europe, Africa and the Middle East as well as education campaigns targeted at consumers, particularly while criminal gangs continue to seek to exploit vulnerable shoppers.
ICCE is committed to continuing its work protecting consumers and industry from counterfeit imaging consumables and the criminal networks that produce and sell them.