‘It’s not a victimless crime’: counterfeit goods hurt the economy. So speak up, Crime Stoppers says

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Crime Stoppers asking for public help on counterfeit crimes
While many people consider it a "victimless crime," Crime Stoppers says counterfeit products can affect everyone. Anne Drewa reports – Apr 23, 2018

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers wants to hear from consumers who’ve seen or may have bought counterfeit goods.

“Often times organized crime is involved and people are afraid to call in or maybe haven’t thought about the safety aspect and how it might impact and cause a fire somewhere,” said Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.

Coverage of counterfeiting on

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It’s estimated that between $20 billion and $30 billion in counterfeit goods are sold in Canada every year.

The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeit goods could cost the global economy over US$4 trillion by 2020.

“It’s not a victimless crime. It hurts our economy. People who sell counterfeit goods are not paying taxes, they are not employing people,” said intellectual property lawyer Karen MacDonald of Norton Rose Fulbright.

The counterfeit market is thriving online, she said.

“It’s changed the way counterfeiters are able to operate because now you aren’t necessarily touching the goods,” MacDonald said. “The goods can be ordered online. They can then be shipped directly to the consumer. Usually it’s coming from China. About 90 per cent of counterfeit goods are made in China.”

MacDonald added that it’s very hard to go after perpetrators online because it’s easy for them to hide their identities.

READ MORE: Canadian mall one of world’s most notorious sources of counterfeit goods: U.S. report

Counterfeit items such as cheap phone chargers, substandard circuit breakers and power bars with fake CSA certification are especially worrisome because they can catch fire or pose the risk of electrocution.

Other goods such as knock-off beauty products and counterfeit medications can be life threatening.

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So how do you detect counterfeit goods? Price is the biggest giveaway.

“If the price is too good to be true, it could be counterfeit,” said MacDonald.

Other ways to protect yourself:

  • Shop at reputable stores with merchandise sourced from the real manufacturer
  • When shopping online, shop at reputable sites.
  • Look for poor spelling and grammar or odd UPC codes or printing on products
  • Look for CSA or UL labels on electrical products. Some counterfeit items still have them, but any items without them is suspect
  • Make sure the country of manufacture listed on the product box matches what’s printed on the actual item

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers is urging anyone who’s been duped into buying fake goods or have discovered counterfeit items at market stalls or  “temporary” retailers to contact them at 1-800-222-8477.

Callers will remain anonymous. Tips may also be sent by texting a message to CRIMES (274637), Crime Stoppers’ iPad/iPhone app, or online at

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