08 June 2021
Apart from the devastating loss of life, one of the undeniable consequences of the Covid19 pandemic has been the cost to the UK economy. We may not know the true costs for some time, but by January this year the National Audit Office had estimated that over £271 billion had been spent by Government on new COVID related programmes. This was equivalent to £9,700 per UK household.
At the time, our overall financial deficit was expected to be £394 billion, which is £339 billion higher than had been anticipated. By March 2021, the Centre for Economics and Business Research had calculated that the virus had cost the UK economy £251 billion.
Did anyone benefit? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, organised crime. Over the past year, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group has never been busier. Intelligence streamed in about fake producers and sellers using the internet to peddle their shoddy and dangerous products, while they manufactured and stockpiled even more, in readiness for restrictions to be lifted.
With billions falling out of the economy in support of universities, local authorities, the NHS and the Job Retention Scheme, huge amounts were also being syphoned into criminal hands, because of accelerating the shift towards internet buying, with consumers being duped into buying fakes.
Around 60% of consumers say that they will continue to buy as much online, after the pandemic, and counterfeiters have been very clued into this trend. Infiltrating legitimate online markets, auction platforms and social media sites and hiding behind bogus website stores, criminals tricked people into buying fake products that could not only endanger their families, but also heighten wider threats to health and safety during the crisis.
It has not stopped there. Traditional markets continue to be infiltrated by organised criminal gangs seeking to distribute their manufactured goods. Just this week Birmingham Trading Standards and CENTSA’s Regional Investigation Team supported by the West Midlands Police and ACG, carried out a major operation which led to the seizure of thousands of counterfeit goods, on their way to a major Midlands market, which would have made thousands of pounds for criminals engaged in all forms of illicit trade, including money laundering.
The clear message from ACG to consumers on World Anti-Counterfeiting Day 2021 is, if you want to help rebuild our economy and safeguard your families don’t buy into organised crime, it will only bring long-term harm and misery.
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.
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.