Dubai - Cosmetics, body care products top the list of counterfeit items seized.
At least 25 million counterfeited products are seized in UAE every year, with experts urging the public to know their rights when purchasing a product.
Hatem Abdelghani, Director of Intellectual Property Department at Legal Group, said cosmetics and body care products top the list of counterfeit items seized in UAE.
"Cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste and deodorants top the list of fake items because they're fast-selling with big public demand," said Abdelghani on the sidelines of Intellectual Property Training organized to teach government employees to spot fake items. Dubai Economic Development Department (DED), Dubai Customs and Dubai Police participated in the training.
"We have been collecting thousands of counterfeit toothpaste lately. It's dangerous, because such products are threats to human health and safety. Fake auto parts and airbags can also put motorists' lives at risk," he said.
Abdelghani noted that The Legal Group, which represents over 500 international brands, works with legal authorities in the UAE and arranges up to 700 raids annually.
He confirmed that the number of raids performed for cosmetics are much more than other sectors that include bags, leather products, garments, auto parts and electronics.
"About 30,000 pieces are caught in every raid," he said.
The circulation of products on social media has also increased the possibility of growing sales of counterfeit items.
The key for customers to protect themselves from counterfeit items is to find the right place to buy their items.
"Refer to trusted sources, big supermarkets and original brands to buy the right product that will not harm your health," he said.
Know your rights
While it isn't easy for the average customer to spot a fake, the public must know their rights when purchasing a product.
Abdelghani said traders of fake items will never give a warranty or an invoice.
"If a buyer refuses to give a price, invoice or warranty for an item, then it's fake," said Abdelghani, noting the customer's duty to request for such documents.
Basic errors like a change in the product's packaging, font type and color can also determine whether it's a fake.
Abdelghani stressed that the habit and culture of shopping should change among people. "A 10 per cent discount shouldn't be sufficient reason to buy from a place that isn't trusted. You may end up buying a product that is more expensive than it should be," he said.
Further, he added that some traders often mix the original with the fakes, usually reducing the value of the product by 50 to 60 per cent. The quality of counterfeit items also differs from one trader to another.
"All items from toothpaste, electronics, auto parts and even medicines could be fake," he said.
Authorities have been cracking down on counterfeit items across the country.
Over 26 million fake items, worth Dh1.19 billion were destroyed in Dubai in March this year.
Thousands of counterfeit watches, mobile phones and accessories, valued at Dh33 million, have also been seized in June.
Dubai Customs have conducted 130 seizures in the first half of 2018 of goods with an estimated value of Dh35.523 million, and organised 43 awareness workshops.
Last year, DED seized over Dh280 million worth of fake goods, and shut over 6,800 Instagram accounts for selling counterfeit goods online during the first half of 2017.
How to spot fake products
- If the perfume bottle comes with a cartoon cover or box, it is fake.
- Every perfume must have a unique barcode at the bottom of its box. If you compare two perfumes and find the same barcode, it's a fake item.
- It is difficult to detect fake cosmetics, so be careful with the place you're buying the - products from.
- Look at the edges of a makeup container. If it's wrapped in a sharp-edged package, it isn't genuine.
- A missing code on the package means it's fake.
- The type of plastic the product is wrapped around should be of high quality to confirm its originality.
- If sold without a box, it's fake.
- Compare a medicine with the original box. If there are changes in font type or color, it isn't genuine.
Car oil filters
- The way oil filters is packaged is important to look at.
- Look at the plastic sealing of auto parts' packaging.
- Genuine oil filers will have engraved numbers or letters in the metal.
- The packaging must have a hologram.