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ACG press releases

19 November 2021 

Social media: Operation MONTY keeps shoppers and businesses safe from counterfeit goods in the run up to the festive season!

The National Markets Group for IP Protection (NMG), a multi-agency focus group aimed at reducing the availability of counterfeit goods at physical markets and online, is warning consumers to watch out for fake, and potentially dangerous goods, that may appear on social media in the run up to the festive shopping season.

With Black Friday fast approaching and consumers vying for bargains, traders in counterfeit goods are looking to exploit the retail shift to on-line buying by attempting to offer often dangerous, counterfeit goods on social media platforms.

‘’Counterfeiters operating on social media draw in unsuspecting consumers, using well-known brand names, to sell their illicit goods” said Graham Mogg, Intelligence Co-Ordinator at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and Chair of the NMG.

“This criminal activity undermines the fabric of society, robbing legitimate business of their income, placing consumers at risk and funds serious and organised crime. A whole range of counterfeit products including clothing, footwear, accessories, watches and even potentially dangerous goods such as toys, cosmetics, perfumes and electrical goods are being offered on these platforms’’

Operation MONTY, a collaborative enforcement campaign coordinated by the NMG, is currently underway, with its industry members, including the Anti-Counterfeiting Group. British Recorded Music Industry, Design and Artists Copyright Society, Association of Photographers and others reporting over 400 on-line traders to Instagram for removal and take-down.

The operation is made possible with collaboration from Meta Platforms, Inc. (Meta), UK Intellectual Property Office’s Intelligence Hub, National Trading Standards e-Crime Team and Trading Standards authorities.

The Intellectual Property Office’s Chief Executive Tim Moss said:
“Criminal networks are targeting online platforms to deceive consumers into buying counterfeit goods. This undermines legitimate sellers and causes harm to individuals and communities.  We are really pleased to be part of Operation Monty and work with our partner organisations to raise awareness of this issue and disrupt IP crime.”

Mike Andrews, Lead Coordinator at the National Trading Standards eCrime Team said: "Counterfeit goods harm consumers, damage legitimate businesses and fund organised crime. Our partnership will crack down on criminals who hide behind social media, ensuring consumers have a safer and happier Christmas."

Patricia Lennon, Campaign Manager of the Real Deal Campaign for Fake-Free Markets, which includes online and social media marketplaces as well as physical markets and car boot fairs, said: “Collaborative approaches on intellectual property protection are a positive way forward, bringing together key partners from different sectors who share a common interest in protecting consumers and supporting legitimate businesses’’  

Meta takes intellectual property rights, including issues concerning counterfeits, extremely seriously and applies a variety of measures to action violating content. As Mark Fiore, Meta’s Director & Associate General Counsel, IP, shared, “A key aspect of our program involves engaging directly with rights holders to learn about the issues they’re facing and to work together on developing solutions. We rely on our deep and trusted partnerships with them in order to find the right approach.” More information about how Meta protects intellectual property can be found in this anti-counterfeiting guide in its Business Help Center and this Newsroom Post.

NMG and Meta greatly value this productive collaboration.

 

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Contact:

NMG

Graham Mogg (Chair) graham.mogg@a-cg.com - 07508 542496

Gavin Terry (Vice Chair) gavin.terry@gmx.com – 07732 394879

Real Deal Charter – www.realdealmarkets.co.uk

Patricia Lennon (Campaign Manager) - info@realdealmarkets.co.uk - 01943 609247

 

The National Markets Group 

National Markets Group for IP protection (NMG) was established in 2008 to provide a forum for a national, co-ordinated, cross-sector approach to tackle the trade in counterfeit and pirated goods at markets and car boot fairs. In 2017, the NMG added online and social media platforms to its portfolio of work.

Members of the National Markets Group include law enforcement, industry and government agencies working collaboratively to reduce the threat to legitimate business and consumers from IP crime

The NMG operates the Real Deal and Real Deal online initiatives, which are preventative campaigns focused on supporting Trading Standards, market operators and social media administrators to maintain a fake-free and safe environment for businesses and consumers.

 

2 November 2021

Supply Chain Issues and Toying with Fakes Causes Harm to Families  

This “Black Friday” could see shoppers land incredible bargains as they shop for online deals in readiness for Christmas. But will they potentially be running a risk of harming their families?

Transnational criminals are fully aware that cash is less available this year and that supply chains have already been disrupted, resulting in shipments queuing at UK ports. As a result, the congestion is likely to mean that parents could find it far more difficult to ensure that their children get their much longed for favourite toys this Christmas.

Unfortunately, counterfeiters will be ahead of the criminal queue, by readying themselves to supply fake products, at discounted prices, online.

The threat was evident during the height of the pandemic, when reports revealed that global counterfeiting gangs were already stockpiling cheap and dangerous versions of popular goods. These stocks are about to flood the UK market. Using sophisticated looking web site stores, e-commerce platforms, auction sites and social media there will be tempting offers that could endanger families more than ever before.

The British Toy and Hobby Association recently published a study report, which confirmed that 88% of toys tested were illegal for sale in the UK and that 48% were clearly unsafe for children. These dangerous and non-compliant toys can result in injuries, including choking, strangulation, damage to sight or hearing, burns, chemical poisoning and electric shocks.

But the dangers don’t stop there. Online payments are also a primary target for criminals, who have no morals or conscience and care nothing about people’s vulnerabilities. Their sales techniques are extremely credible, using false details, accounts, and customer reviews to convince susceptible consumers into buying their cheap junk. They are also after consumers’ bank details and identities to take over their bank accounts, get new credit cards, state benefits, driving licenses and passports.

Counterfeiters thrive when supply chains are disrupted, and money is tight. For them, the current climate is too good to be true and consumers need to be extra careful when buying online this year, to avoid the threat of dangerous fake goods and the possibility of associated identify theft.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group is advising consumers to

  • Be suspicious of deeply discounted prices. Trust your instincts, if it sounds too good to be true then the chances are that the item is fake.
  • Stick to reputable and trusted traders as well as websites offering legitimate deals. For example, if it’s a deal and the sale is not happening in a store then it could be a scam.
  • Most counterfeiters are overseas and don’t always pay attention to detail, so check websites and the URL for spelling and grammar. Counterfeiters will also try and deceive shoppers by slightly changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.
  • Just because a site ends with co.uk does not mean that the seller is based in the UK.  If there is no address supplied or if there is just a PO Box or email, consumers should be careful.
  • Ensure the website address begins ‘https’ at the payment stage – this indicates a secure payment.  Be extremely wary if asked to send any payment abroad by any money transfer system such as Western Union or Ukash etc.
  • Copy and paste the web address onto the following website to check where the lender is really located http://whois.domaintools.com/ - if their address has been left out/withheld be suspicious. Many websites selling fake items have their domains registered in China.
  • If you have not bought from the seller before, do your research and check online for reviews. Also look out for fake reviews. If there have been a lot of positive reviews within a few days, then this can indicate that counterfeiters are placing reviews to hit a specific timeline. Again look out for poor spelling and  grammar.
  • Look out for details of a returns policy, rogue traders don’t offer customer service. Look at the "contact us" section, if there's no physical address or working phone number, beware.

 

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Contact:

Aimee Orr, ACG Communications Manager: email aimee@a-cg.com  or call 01494 449165

 

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG)

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

ACG Website:https://www.a-cg.org/  

ACG Press Kit:https://t.co/x13HCX8BLl?amp=1

Still Toying with Children’s safety (British Toy & Hobby Association Report): https://toysafety.co.uk/

ACG Consumer Advice: https://www.a-cg.org/consumer-advice

 

 

18 Ocotber 2021

AMAZON: Driving Counterfeits to Zero

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) welcomes Amazon’s commitment in their new Policy Position Paper

This week, Amazon published a “Policy Position Paper” setting out its commitment to address the marketing and sales of counterfeit products across its platforms. Amazon’s aims are to “drive counterfeits to zero” and ACG welcomes this compelling commitment.

Amazon is championing a framework that targets the growing threats that counterfeiting brings to UK consumers, business and the economy. The aim is to introduce better exchanges of information to block counterfeiting at earlier stages and stop fake products at our borders. Amazon will also help to raise greater public awareness and increase resources for law enforcement, which will facilitate the identification and prosecution of counterfeiters.

Counterfeiting poses serious and increasing risks to UK business and consumers. The market for fake products in the UK is worth over £16 billion which results in lost revenues of over £4 billion which could be used to build our economy and public services, instead it is falling into the hands of international criminals who are using the money to seed fund other forms of illicit trade in people drugs and weapons. What’s more is that the last customs report, published before the UK left the EU identified that over 37% of fake goods detained at the borders were dangerous to consumers.

Phil Lew, Director General of the ACG greatly welcomes this developed Amazon strategy.  ACG is already working with Amazon to stop the flood of counterfeit goods from entering UK and international markets. Working together, over the past year, ACG and Amazon have developed even closer working relationships, which have built greater knowledge and awareness about how counterfeiters work and how they can be prevented from abusing systems to market their increasingly dangerous goods.

 ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

 The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG)

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

ACG Website:https://www.a-cg.org/  

ACG Press Kit:https://t.co/x13HCX8BLl?amp=1

 

11 August 2021

Winners of the 2021 ACG Awards for Excellence Announced
The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) has announced the winners of the 2021 ACG Awards for Excellence in Anti-Counterfeiting Enforcement at an event hosted by Phil Lewis, Director General at the ACG and Dave Riley, Programme Manager with National Trading Standards and sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, Snapdragon Monitoring and Bio-Oil. The presentations are available to watch on the ACG YouTube channel https://youtu.be/FLWwL4gd89g 

This year, winners of the ACG Awards were announced at a virtual event. The Dave Hankinson Memorial Award for Individual Excellence in Anti-Counterfeiting Enforcement was awarded to Marsha Bell from Salford Trading Standards, while the Trading Standards Department award was awarded to Central England Trading Standards Authorities Regional Investigations Team (CEnTSA RIT), Birmingham Trading Standards and National Trading Standards Intelligence Team.

The Special Commendation Awards for Excellence in Anti-Counterfeiting Enforcement were presented to Geoff Oulton at Gatwick Border Force and Crime Freight and People Command at Heathrow Border Force.

Three ACG special awards went to: Hertfordshire Trading Standards with a mention to Mark Kempster and Joanne Hayes; Ealing Trading Standards with a mention to Mohammed Tariq and Brian Gohery; and Manchester City Council Trading Standards with a mention to Matthew Knowles.

“Over the past 18 months the COVID pandemic has brought despair and distress to millions of people in the UK. This and the combined pressures of rebuilding our economy and preparing the country for our exit from the EU have brought new and incessant challenges for those in enforcement. Trading Standards, Police and Border Force have stood tall and worked conscientiously to combat criminals who have sought to prey on people’s weaknesses and anxieties. Through our annual awards, ACG is delighted to applaud the work they have done in unrelenting circumstances”, commented Lewis.

Individual Highly Commended awards were announced for Lara Mason of Lancashire Trading Standards, Mohammed Tariq of Birmingham and Ealing Trading Standards, a Trading Standards Officer (who wishes to remain anonymous) from Cheshire East Trading Standards, Daryl Fryatt of City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Stephen Fahey of An Garda Siochána.

Highly Commended awards for enforcement teams went to Lancashire Trading Standards, the Partnership Enforcement Team at Rochdale Trading Standards, Cheshire West and Cheshire Trading Standards with a special mention to Chris Jeffs, Border Force East Midlands Airport Freight Team, Border Force North West Intel Team, Customs IPR Unit at Dublin Airport, International Trade Exam Team Thames Command at Tilbury Port, North West PIPCU, City of London PIPCU and Southampton Law Enforcement International Trade team, Docks team and Compliance team.

Additionally, Commended awards were announced for James Brewster of UK Border Force, Peter Gartland of City of London PIPCU, Peter Sherlock of the IPR Approvals team (HMRC) and a Police Office (who wishes to remain anonymous) from City of London PIPCU.

“The awards underline the commitment that Trading Standards teams across the UK continue to have in taking appropriate enforcement action where the sale of fake goods is uncovered. It particularly demonstrates the dedication that is needed by different agencies and individuals in tackling organised criminality of this nature. I am always impressed with the level of cooperation between the public and private sectors without which local, regional and national Trading Standards teams would not be able to achieve these successes”, added Riley.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
Contact: Carol Levin, Communications Manager: email carol@a-cg.com or 01494 449165

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) The ACG represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. It helps steer effective policy, promote evidenced-based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. ACG has been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime https://www.a-cg.org/ 

ACG Awards The awards were introduced by ACG in 1994 to recognise some of excellent enforcement work that is taking place around the UK, to fight the trade in counterfeit goods. Candidates are nominated for three different categories; individual, department and special commendation and an awards panel determine the winners. Event recording https://youtu.be/FLWwL4gd89g 

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is an American multinational consumer goods company with brands such as Pampers, Ariel and Gillette https://www.pg.co.uk/
Snapdragon Monitoring tackle online sales of counterfeit goods using registered IP, specialising in the SME marketplace https://snapdragon-ip.com/
Bio-Oil researches and develops specialist skincare products, using oil to achieve superior product performance https://www.bio-oil.com/en

 

26 March 2021

Social media: Operation CLOVER takes down prolific traders in counterfeit goods this Easter

As COVID19 restrictions ease in the UK, shoppers are not only looking to buy chocolate eggs over the holiday but also gifts for their family or friends.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), Facebook and the UK Intellectual Property Office’s Intelligence Hub are joining forces in another collaborative campaign, Operation CLOVER, to take down online traders of counterfeit products, which are impacting ACG member brands and misleading consumers. “Traders in counterfeit goods are using prestigious brand names to sell illicit and potentially dangerous products online,” said Phil Lewis, the group’s Director General.

Following the success of Operation Carol in November 2020, all three organisations are partnering once again to protect the interests of consumers and legitimate businesses that are struggling to survive in these difficult times.

“Despite the easing of restrictions, COVID19 continues to have a profound effect on the retail sector. With many shops still closed, shoppers have instead gone online to buy their gifts, and sellers have jumped in to meet that demand. Disreputable sellers are trading from their homes and garages, selling fake items bearing well established global brand names, including potentially unsafe electrical goods, toys, cosmetics, perfume, clothing, trainers and handbags.”

Consumers should be extremely vigilant and check that any product they buy online is from a reputable source. If they are suspicious about goods being potentially counterfeit, they should report them as quickly as possible.

Graham Mogg, Intelligence coordinator at the ACG said, “We're targeting traders that are deceiving shoppers by selling counterfeit goods online. These fakes are likely to be poorly made, poorly finished and more likely to be unsafe. That’s why we’ve been working with Facebook to remove listings of potentially counterfeit goods. We want to help protect innocent individuals who are shopping online and simply looking for an Easter bargain.”

“ACG is very grateful to Facebook and the IPO Intelligence Hub for their support. Certainly, without them this operation wouldn’t have been possible.’’

Facebook takes intellectual property rights, including issues concerning counterfeits, seriously and has put in place a variety of measures to address these issues. More information about how Facebook protects intellectual property can be found in this anti-counterfeiting guide in its Business Help Center.

ACG, Facebook and the Intelligence Hub greatly value this productive collaboration.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS
Contact: Carol Levin, ACG Communications Manager: email carol@a-cg.com or call 01494 449165

Current Position

  • Operation CAROL (December 2020) targeted prolific Facebook and Instagram traders infringing members’ IP rights - 95 profiles and 100,000 images were removed
  • According to Hootsuite (Jan 2021)
    • Over 1 billion people use Instagram every month
    • 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month
    • 50% of people have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service on Instagram
    • Facebook has 2.74 billion monthly active users
    • 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups
    • Facebook removed 3,716,817 pieces of content in one half year for copyright and trademark infringement and counterfeit reports

 

11 March 2021

Planned freeports will make the UK an easy target for criminals

Freeports and Single Trade zones increase counterfeiting by 6%

Anti-counterfeiting champions the ACG are warning about the dangers of criminal activity and illicit trade at the proposed new Freeport’s in the UK. The Chancellor has announced plans to establish eight new regional Freeports in the UK, and two more may be on the way.

While the announcement is welcome news for the economy as we enter a new era of international trade after leaving the European Union. The Anti- Counterfeiting Group (ACG) warns that the misuse of freeports in a wide range of other countries has led to serious increases in illicit trade, including counterfeit goods, drug trafficking, corruption and money laundering. In fact, Free Trade Zones are amplifiers of illicit trade as they lie outside the home country’s jurisdiction. They are often “lightly regulated” and as such are attractive to illegal groups and activities.

Many business leaders argue that new freeports could lead to thousands of new jobs. The investment also has the potential to cut the cost of customs controls, alongside lower customs duties and taxes. But Phil Lewis from the ACG warns that “Unless enforcement and policing is strong at Free Trade Zones they run a severe risk of becoming transit points and complex distribution centres for the trade in counterfeit goods. These zones can facilitate the export of fakes by concealing and disguising consignments of counterfeit products through mixed shipments and false transport documentation.”

In the past, customs officials have closed Free Trade Zone factories found to be producing counterfeits. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also reported that the addition of a single trade zone within an economy significantly increases counterfeiting by 6%. The risks raised by OECD and other respected bodies, including the World Customs Organization (WCO), led to the European Parliament calling for the abolition of freeports in the EU.

ACG believes that simply cutting red tape to boost jobs and reduce business taxes and customs controls does not lead to more protected borders.

The global trade in counterfeit goods is now worth more than $509 billion. It is destroying businesses, economies and is threatening consumers’ lives through the trade of dangerous fake goods. The recent pandemic has thrown a clear light on the scope and scale of criminality involved. The ease with which counterfeit face masks, sanitisers, remedies, medical equipment and even fake vaccines have reached the UK. 

UK businesses and consumers need solid reassurance that the UK government has clear plans in place to prevent more illicit and dangerous goods from arriving in the country. The ACG calls for assurances that there will be effective detection systems at these new freeports, including specialised officers, modern technology, to assist surveillance, inspections and preventative customs controls. Otherwise, the only people taking control of our borders will be international criminals.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

Contact:

Carol Levin, ACG Communications Manager: email carol@a-cg.com  or call 01494 449165

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG)

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.
ACG Website:https://www.a-cg.org/  

 

22 February 2021

Criminal gangs target UK ports with large shipments of fake goods

56% of all counterfeit goods seized are transported by sea.

International organised crime groups are targeting UK harbours to transport massive volumes of counterfeit goods, which are destroying our high streets and jobs, and threatening the health and safety of consumers. 

On 22 February, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Intellectually Property Office (EUIPO) published a joint report on the growing worldwide risks from container shipments of fake goods arriving by sea, into Europe.

The report warns that, despite the COVID-19 crisis, which has affected normal trade routes, it has stimulated a huge rise in small packages of counterfeit items arriving in the UK, due to more online buying. Maritime trade has continued to thrive and is providing colossal income for global international crime groups. 

This has become a major “two-fold” problem for UK Border Force and inland enforcement authorities, as the scope and scale of international criminal counterfeiting continues to grow.

Maritime container shipping has always been the universal way to move huge volumes of goods around the world and while the OECD-EUIPO data shows that the highest number of customs actions were taken to stop small parcels of counterfeits, 56% of all articles seized were transported by sea. European-wide market surveillance reports have also revealed that over 90% of fake goods seized inland, are now dangerous.  

The highest number of counterfeit shipments originate in East Asia, with China and

Hong Kong (China) ranked at the top of the list. However, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are also significant shippers. All target UK ports with Felixstowe third on the list of European destinations. Southampton and London also appear in the top 20.

The Anti-Counterfeit Group (ACG) has warned that planned infrastructure developments in European ports, as a result of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, could further accelerate the growth of fakes entering Europe in container ships.

Phil Lewis, ACG’s Director General warns “Huge sums of money are falling into criminals’ hands from this massive trade, which could be used to re-build our economy, protect consumers and businesses, and support vital public services.

“The ACG calls on UK Government to target our enforcement resources to combat this largely overlooked form of international criminality and to take extra care in signing trade deals with countries, which have little respect for our prized business assets or the safety of consumers.” 

 

OECD/EUIPO Report: Misuse of Containerised Maritime Shipping

ENDS

Contact:

Carol Levin, ACG Communications Manager: email carol@a-cg.com  or call 01494 449165


Current Position

  • Sea transport accounts for more than 80% of all merchandise traded internationally. Container ships boost efficiency and reduce the costs of international trade, but they can also be misused to transport counterfeit goods.
  • Seizures of fakes shipped in containers represent a relatively low proportion of the total number of seizures, but they account for 56% of the total value of seized counterfeits.
  • The main counterfeit shipments are from East Asia, especially China and Hong Kong (China), accounting for 79% of the total value of containers containing fakes seized worldwide.
  • Global trade in counterfeit goods amounted to EUR 460 billion in 2016, or around 3.3% of global trade. Counterfeit goods accounted for 6.8% of goods imports into the EU from third countries, worth EUR 121 billion.
     

19 February 2021

UK consumers lack protection from dangerous counterfeit products

Over the past ten years e-commerce fraud has risen by a staggering 49.6% yet the Government are still failing to do enough to protect the public from these fraudsters.

With the current pandemic increasing the risk of UK consumers being targeted by fraudsters selling fake products, especially items which could endanger lives, The ACG (Anti-Counterfeiting Group) is lobbying the Government to ensure the UK public is protected to the same standard as the US and EU.

The Online Harms White paper, delivered to Parliament in December does nothing to recognise the growing threat of dangerous counterfeit goods. The Government has constantly refused to accept the argument that counterfeiting is now a health and safety threat, despite the appearance of fake anti-COVID vaccines, remedies and medical equipment.

As the Government continues to roll out their vaccination programme more and more Covid-19 listings are appearing with a recent study revealing almost 650 listings in one day for counterfeit vaccines on 12 separate dark web sites. The City of London's Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU), have recently charged a fraudster, claiming to work for the NHS, who injected a 92-year-old woman with fake COVID-19 serum.

With consumers currently being forced to buy more online fraudsters are using increasingly innovative techniques to trick buyers into parting with their money such as, paid influencers, bogus reviews, convincing packaging, sponsored and sham social media reports, that disappear after 24 hours. Moreover, the use of encrypted instant messaging tools and trusted payment methods like Paypal gives direct access to consumers. In one month alone, Google blocked and removed 2.7 billion ads, that is 5,000 bad ads per minute.

Phil Lewis, from the ACG, says, "The development of an online harms regime is the perfect opportunity to put measures in place to protect members of the public from counterfeiters and the dangerous goods they sell, that can put consumers out of pocket but also damage their health."

"We are being left behind when it comes to legislation. The US and EU are forging ahead with important steps to protect consumers and businesses from the growing dangers of counterfeiting and illicit trade. While the European Commission's draft Digital Services Act sets it sights on giving e-commerce platforms greater responsibility to proactively screen and prevent the sale of counterfeit goods from appearing on their sites, the US INFORM Act also aims to build greater transparency by improving processes to check the validity of third-party sellers."

The UK is the 5th largest consumer market globally and is hugely attractive to counterfeiters. Now more than ever it is time for the UK to follow the US and EU lead and ensure that consumers and business are protected online from the selling of dangerous fakes in the same way that they protected from physical markets and retail sellers. The Digital Harms Bill is an easy way of helping to do this.

 ENDS

Media enquiries – contact

 ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin

 01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

 

 

1 September 2020

Is the UK still a world leader in tackling intellectual property crime?

Six years ago, the UK was considered a world leader in protecting intellectual property rights, but has it kept pace with modern day counterfeiting and organised crime? Many experts believe it hasn’t and that the UK is in fact, falling behind other countries.

“The UK’s number one accolade was largely thanks to the work of the Intellectual Property Office. It put effective and strong measures in place for IP (intellectual property) protection and enforcement” commented Phil Lewis, Director General at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), the UK’s leading anti-counterfeiting organisation.

“But there’s a growing call for government accountability and transparency. The UK urgently needs safeguards that will protect businesses and consumers and the only way to shape those is by engaging with all relevant stakeholders. Other countries have done this and that’s why they’re overtaking the UK” Lewis continued.

In the US there have been a series of announcements which clearly demonstrate President Trump’s desire to tackle counterfeiting. In April, he issued a Memorandum on Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods and prompted the US Department for Homeland Security, responsible for public security to produce a plan to stop counterfeiting at source and involve private-sector stakeholders.
Later in July, further US legislation was introduced to fight the online sale of stolen, counterfeit and dangerous consumer products. The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM) Act directs online platforms to authenticate the identity of their third-party sellers of consumer products. This legislation will enable consumers to distinguish genuine retailers more easily from fraudsters and prevent organised retail crime operations.

In addition, US Customs and Border Protection are introducing new rules that forces foreign importers to provide key information that will assist the enforcement agency in identifying shipments of counterfeit goods.

These safeguards are necessary because the growth of e-commerce is providing counterfeiters with a greater opportunity to sell unsafe and unregulated products to businesses and consumers. The global trade in fake goods continues to grow (estimated at over $5 billion) as the criminals seek to make huge profits that help to fund organised criminal activities.

“The INFORM Consumers Act will provide much needed transparency of online marketplaces,” said TRACIT Director General Jeffrey Hardy. “If platforms like Amazon and eBay start improving the verification of third-party sellers, then they’ll be taking a giant step in protecting consumers from fraud, counterfeiting and other forms of illicit trade.”
A similar move has been made by the European Union, who are forging ahead of the UK with a Digital Services Act drafted by the European Commission. Its aim is to compel social media and other platforms to remove illegal content or face the threat of sanctions. E-commerce platforms will be directed to introduce more proactive screening, to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods. The Act will be the first in the world to oversee content on digital platforms and the legislation may be established as early as the end of the year.

“The Digital Services Act is the perfect opportunity to lay out a clear legal framework so that platforms in Europe play their fair part in addressing the issue of illegal products sold online” commented Michelle Gibbons, Director General of AIM, the European Brands Association. “Too many consumers are being scammed, too many businesses face the effects of unfair competition by non-compliant products, too much is lost in tax revenue. It’s time for everyone to step up and take responsibility for taking these goods off the European market.”

“UK Government hasn’t been idle. It has introduced several policy initiatives to improve the protection of consumers, business and the economy from the impact of counterfeiting” explained Lewis.

“But unlike the US Government which sees integration with all business sectors as paramount, the UK has blocked brands and designers from participating in key programs and failed to fully acknowledge the growing threat to consumers and business from unsafe counterfeit goods. For example, the Government’s delayed Online Harms Bill, which focuses on the protection, safety and well-being of individual users, has excluded the online sale of dangerous fakes.”

Brands and designers contribute 39% to UK employment and 26% of the overall GDP and yet they have been excluded from almost every aspect of the Creative Industries: Sector Deal round table initiative, which is considering new Codes of Practice for social media and online marketplaces.

“These initiatives could potentially restore the UK’s position as the top country for IP protection and enforcement, but we still need a collaborative national response to counterfeiting which is an insidious and growing threat. Now we look to be falling behind” said Dids Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of ACID (Anti Copying In Design) Ltd.

The overall concern is that, if the UK government continually fails to recognise the opportunities that e-commerce has given counterfeiters and it then continues to restrict the prospect of brands and designers contributing to develop cohesive strategies, it will not only fail to rebuild the UK economy but will open itself up to new threats.


ENDS

 
NOTES TO EDITORS
Current Position
• In 2019 the OECD and European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reported that the global trade in fake goods is now worth $509 billion.
• Almost 7% of products imported into Europe are counterfeit.
• Fake goods imported to the UK are worth almost £14 billion and result in losses of £4 billion in revenue to the retail and wholesale sector.
• EU customs revealed that over 34% of detained articles were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.
• Operating behind sophisticated looking sales sites and using legitimate social media and e-commerce platforms, counterfeiters use fake trademarks, brands and certification labels to entice customers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe, products.
About
1. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG): The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.
2. The Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) is a private sector initiative to mitigate the economic and social damages of illicit trade by strengthening government enforcement mechanisms and integrating supply chain controls across industry sectors most impacted by illicit trade.
3. AIM (Association des Industries de Marque) is the European Brands Association, representing manufacturers of branded consumer goods in Europe on key issues which affect their ability to design, distribute and market their brands.
4. ACID (Anti Copying in Design Ltd) is the UK’s leading design and intellectual property campaigning organisation. It is a trade association for designers and manufacturers and aims to provide cost effective tips, advice and guidelines.

 

16 June 2020

Counterfeiting drives threat from serious and organised crime

Europol and the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) have joined forces to publish a case book report, which clearly proves the links between counterfeiting, serious and organised crime and other forms of international criminal activity.

The study brings together clear cases where money laundering, document fraud, cybercrime, fake drug production, trafficking and terrorism have been supported by profits derived from the sale of fake goods on our streets and markets.

Employing forced labour and the same routes and forged documentation used for other menacing forms of illicit trafficking, organised crime groups are drawing draw vast amounts of unaccountable cash to fuel international crime.

Phil Lewis, Director General of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) explains that this joint report finally puts the myth to bed that counterfeiting is a low-level crime, which harms no one.

“International crime gangs are devastating our businesses, jobs and our economies. But more than this they are using the cash they make to threaten our families and communities by selling flammable clothing, fake medicines, food, alcohol, toys and a growing range of hazardous household products.

This has never been more illuminated than in the current pandemic crisis, when counterfeiters have been selling useless fake face masks, testing kits and even virus remedies.

They have no moral conscience and are using our money to fund transnational crime.  Instead our money should be being used to properly protect our communities, to re-build our economies and support vital public services”.

ENDS

 

Media enquiries – contact

 ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin

 01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

Current Position


9 June 2020

Manchester shops defied the law

Shops in the Cheetham Hill area of Manchester opened despite the restrictions in place on non-essential retailers and have been selling potentially dangerous products.

All non-essential shops were forced to close after the government announced lockdown measures on 23 March, to stop the virus spreading.

Despite these restrictions around 55 retail shops in Cheetham Hill opened their doors to sell counterfeit goods as well as fake COVID-19 related products such as facial coverings and hand sanitisers.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) warned "These traders aren’t concerned about social distancing or protecting the public. They have been ignoring the law and the products they sell will undoubtably put individuals and families at risk. We urge everyone to stop buying fake goods, especially at a time when the economy is struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic” 

In the last month, ACG has contacted several senior politicians including Priti Patel Secretary of State for the Home Department, Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer, Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester and the Labour Policy Forum as well as enforcement officers to highlight the problems in Manchester and the impact this illicit trade has on the economy and peoples’ jobs. It is estimated that fake goods divert up to £4 billion from legitimate businesses and public services.

Phil Lewis, Director General at the ACG said: " Our member brands, Trading Standards and Police have been fighting to close these units for some time now. It is a complex network of criminals and they are well entrenched.

“It’s great to see that Greater Manchester Police and partners have acted on information provided by ACG and issued prohibition notices to inform local businesses and counterfeit retailers of their responsibility to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but it’s now time for the politicians to step up and take decisive action to rid us of this counterfeiting scourge, which is openly destroying prized businesses.

“Failing to do this will have a huge impact on any efforts to re-build our economy.”

 

ENDS

Media enquiries – contact

 ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin

 01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

Current Position

  • In 2019 the OECD and European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reported that the global trade in fake goods is now worth $509 billion. 
  • Almost 7% of products imported into Europe are counterfeit. 
  • Fake goods imported to the UK are worth over £13 billion and result in losses of £4 billion to the retail and wholesale sector.
  • EU customs revealed that over 37% of detained articles were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.
  • Operating behind sophisticated looking sales sites and using legitimate social media and e-commerce platforms, counterfeiters use fake trademarks, brands and certification labels to entice customers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe, products. 

 About the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG)

  1. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

 For more information go to the ACG website https://www.a-cg.org/  and for a list of brands that are members of the ACG go to https://www.a-cg.org/membership/full-members

 

21 May 2020

Reluctance to seek medical care drives counterfeit medicine

People are buying prescription-based medicines over the internet rather than seek medical advice says Phil Lewis, Director General of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG).

GPs have seen a dramatic fall in patients making appointments for routine consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic. NHS Digital data shows the total number of appointments recorded in GP practice systems fell from 6 million at the beginning of March to 4.25 million by the end of the month – a reduction of almost 30%.

ACG, one of the world’s leading anti-counterfeiting organisations, is concerned that people have been less inclined to consult their doctors on normal health issues and have taken to the internet to self-medicate.

 “This has happened at a time when large organised gangs, operating across the world have turned their attention to online crime” said Mr Lewis.

 “They use sophisticated websites, social media and e-commerce platforms to advertise products using fake trademarks, brand names and certification labels to try and convince customers they’re buying genuine, safe products. 

 “The reality is quite different. These predatory criminals have set out to dupe consumers into buying fake and unregulated medicines, which could easily maim and endanger their lives.”  

 Interpol has officially confirmed that some of these fake medicines have been found to contain mercury, arsenic, rat poison and even cement. 

 A public information campaign, featuring NHS staff, was launched earlier this month to persuade the public to use their local health service.

 The message was clear. GP services remain “Open for Business” and people’s conditions may worsen if they do not get the correct medical advice. If anyone requires a consultation, they should contact their local practice immediately, and ACG reminds everyone that buying medicines and remedies from unregulated sources is dangerous.

 “Think hard before you buy anything online especially if you are providing your personal and bank details. Avoid websites that have no physical address, that make claims like “no risk”, “perfectly safe”, “totally legal”, if the price is unusually low, there are spelling mistakes or if payments can only be made using unfamiliar methods such as “bitcoins” or other cryptocurrencies” added Mr Lewis.

 Counterfeit antibiotics, lifestyle drugs and painkillers are the most common fake drugs entering the country, often by post or express courier deliveries. Worryingly other medicines have also been arriving, counterfeit drug treatments for cancer, HIV and heart disease, and even local anaesthetics.

 If you are worried about any websites and counterfeit products, contact your local Trading Standards team.

 ENDS

 Media enquiries – contact

 ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin

 01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

 NOTES TO EDITORS

Current Position

  • This year the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported over 4 billion Euros ($4.33 billion) worth of counterfeit drugs are sold across the world
  • Between 2014-2016, 96% of all customs seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals were of postal or express courier deliveries
  • During this crisis, the market has been flooded with fake surgical masks, emergency clothing, sanitisers, testing kits, thermometers, cleaning solutions, anti-bacterial wipes, indoor sports equipment, refrigeration appliances, and even bogus COVID-19 treatments. But general fraud, scams and cybercrimes are also on the up.

 

15 May 2020

Pandemic causes a surge in online crime

Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID19 pandemic by turning their attention to online crime. As lockdown continues, across the UK, there has been a drop in street crime of 21%. However, online crime, driven by predatory transnational gangs, is on the rise. This means that consumers and businesses are much more likely to be victims of fraud and dangerous counterfeited goods. The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), the UK’s leading anti-counterfeiting organisation, is urging people to be extra careful when they spend online.

Fake goods imported to the UK are worth over £13 billion and result in losses of £4 billion to the retail and wholesale sector. It is no surprise, that during this crisis, the market has been flooded with fake surgical masks, emergency clothing, sanitisers, testing kits, thermometers, cleaning solutions, anti-bacterial wipes, indoor sports equipment, refrigeration appliances, and even bogus COVID-19 treatments. But general fraud, scams and cybercrimes are also on the up.

Phil Lewis, Director General at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) says, “Organised crime groups always follow the money and have no moral values. Predictably, they are now exploiting the fears and anxieties of consumers who are looking for ways to keep themselves and their families safe and well. The crisis has given these callous criminals even greater opportunity to feed their depraved activities, which often include child labour and trafficking in people, drugs and weapons. We are urging the consumer to think before they buy.”

During this difficult time, our enforcement authorities are even more stretched. Therefore, ACG is asking consumers and businesses to take responsibility themselves to ensure the fraudsters and counterfeiters are not given free rein to destroy our families, livelihoods, jobs, and vital public revenue, which could be used to fight the virus.

ACG warns, “The key is to think before you buy and provide any personal or banking information. Also, try and verify that what you are buying is from a dependable online retailer or a reliable source. Moreover, ignore random requests for money or bank transfers and even avoid opening any unexpected emails.”

In relation to counterfeit products, ACG believes that businesses need to maintain and develop more extensive measures to look after themselves. Criminals are stockpiling fake goods in readiness for the crisis to pass. Companies need strong and effective strategies to make sure their products and brands are safeguarded. It is vital to have people on the ground to ensure that wilful infringers and criminal counterfeiters are continuously kept at bay. Company brand protection teams will be a key to this, by identifying growing threats, supporting enforcement authorities on the ground and delivering essential plans for continuing brand protection. 

ENDS

Media enquiries – contact

 ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin

 01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

Current Position

·         In 2019 the OECD and European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reported that the global trade in fake goods is now worth $509 billion. 

·         Almost 7% of products imported into Europe are counterfeit. 

·         Fake goods imported to the UK are worth over £13 billion and result in losses of £4 billion to the retail and wholesale sector

·         EU customs revealed that over 37% of detained articles were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.

·         Operating behind sophisticated looking sales sites and using legitimate social media and e-commerce platforms, counterfeiters use fake trademarks, brands and certification labels to entice customers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe, products. 

 

8 April 2020

Not the time to reduce brand protection

As businesses struggle under the pressure of the current coronavirus emergency, they more than ever need their brand protection workforces to help protect consumers and their company’s vital assets. Criminal counterfeiters are in manufacturing overdrive and as we publish the ACG Annual Report 2019Director General for the Anti-Counterfeiting Group calls on business to be ready to meet the challenge. 

Phil Lewis, Director General at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) today warned that criminals will be working overtime to manufacture and stockpile counterfeits, in readiness to market and sell their goods, once the current health crisis is over. Fears are that we will be facing an even wider range of substandard and dangerous fakes. He called on businesses to ensure they keep brand protection experts in play, to meet this impending threat.

On the day of the publication of the 2019 Annual Report for ACG, Phil explained: “As the counterfeiters’ are working hard to profit from the coronavirus pandemic, they will also be planning for the future. We need to be prepared and ahead of the game. It is vital to have experts on the ground, who can put plans in place to tackle criminal networks in the UK, but also understand the situation, systems and laws in countries where most of the counterfeits come from, such as China, Turkey and India.

 “Our Annual Report shows what brands can do when working in collaboration with ACG and enforcers. Together we are making a difference by tackling high level counterfeiting and preventing distribution on the ground and online, whilst advising governments and working in partnership to warn consumers about the growing risks of buying fake product.

“Shelving brand protection, now, simply hands the advantage to the criminals. We must  be seen to play our part, otherwise we could easily send the wrong message to Government and enforcement.”

The ACG Annual Report highlights the main areas of work for ACG over the last twelve months involving lobbying, enforcing and raising awareness. 

A copy of the Annual Report can be downloaded from the ACG website www.a-cg.org

ENDS

Media enquiries – contact 

ACG Communications Manager, Carol Levin
01494 449165 / carol@a-cg.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

Current Position

  •          In 2019 the OECD and European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) reported that the global trade in fake goods is now worth $509 billion. 
  •          Almost 7% of products imported into Europe are counterfeit. 
  •          Fake goods imported to the UK are worth over £13 billion and result in losses of £4 billion to the retail and wholesale sector.
  •          EU customs revealed that over 37% of detained articles were potentially dangerous to the health and safety of consumers.
  •          Operating behind sophisticated looking sales sites and using legitimate social media and e-commerce platforms, counterfeiters use fake trademarks, brands and certification labels to entice customers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe, products. 

 

About the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG)

  1.       The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) represents the voice of business in shaping an effective deterrent to counterfeiting in the UK. We help to steer effective policy, promote evidenced based actions, empower multi-agency partnerships and strengthen international collaboration. We have been working since 1980 to raise awareness of this serious organised crime.

 

For more information go to the ACG website https://www.a-cg.org/  and for a list of brands that are members of the ACG go to https://www.a-cg.org/membership/full-members 

 

2 April 2020

Online fraudsters exploit COVID-19 fears

The Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT), are urging consumer

About ACG

ACG represents more than 3,000 brands affected by this influx of fakes into the UK and delivers an international network of information, advice and contacts on all aspects of IP protection. Working with Government and law enforcement agencies since 1980, ACG is focused on providing an effective and sustained response to counterfeiting.

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Membership with the ACG is the best way to work with government and enforcement bodies to protect your brand. Our Roadshows and training days help you reach out to police, trading standards and border force officers and tell them about your genuine products.

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ACG is registered at Companies House in England and Wales under Company number 1984849.
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