When we hear of counterfeit product rings, often we assume that they involve illegally reproducing high-ticket items such as designer handbags, consumer electronics and pirated DVDs. While these are all huge industries that cost companies billions of dollars annually, there are no lengths counterfeiters won’t go to in order to defraud consumers and make millions of dollars in profits. Today we’ll look at five strange counterfeit items that are not only big money for counterfeiters, but items we probably would have never imagined organized crime rings would turn into major black market industries.
The cosmetic industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. With potions promising to make women look more youthful and radiant in appearance, the average woman spends roughly $15,000 in their lifetime on beauty products alone. Looking to get their piece of the pie, counterfeiters have taken on the beauty industry and began selling cheap knock-offs of some of the most popular cosmetic lines.
Counterfeit cosmetics can not only cause unexpected results for the people who have had the misfortune of purchasing these products, but tests have shown that these products have disgusting or dangerous additives such as rat droppings, human urine and arsenic. While going to the cosmetic counter may be a financially trying experience for some of us, it’s better to purchase cosmetic items from a reputable seller.
The website FakeABaby.com touts itself as one of the top gag gift websites on the internet. The site, which sells fake pregnancy bellies, fake prescription papers and, yes, even fake ultrasound photos, is a one stop shop for a woman to counterfeit a pregnancy. While the website itself is protected by selling their products under the premise that they are intended as a joke, that hasn’t stopped some deceptive women from using the products sold on the website in order to deceive their boyfriends or husbands.
Several cases have developed as a result of the products sold on FakeABaby.com. A correctional officer in Bakersfield, CA allegedly beat his wife after finding she had faked a pregnancy using products she purchased from the website. And in Michigan, a teenage girl allegedly faked having triplets in order to receive free money and gifts through generous donations. To the people who were the victim of these deceptions, the outcome was no laughing matter.
As something we purchase, almost without thinking about it, on a monthly basis, it’s probably never crossed our mind that there would be big money in selling bunk laundry detergent.
Tide brand laundry detergent, particularly, has been dubbed “liquid gold.” Not only has it become one of the most stolen items from grocery stores across the nation, but it’s been reported that drug dealers have been taking the soap in lieu of currency. Now counterfeit operations have been looking to cash in on the popularity of the household product by selling five-gallon buckets full of unlicensed Tide.
In 2010, a police raid in Seattle, WA turned up thousands of bags of counterfeit Tide detergent. Similar raids across the United States have uncovered what would amount to millions of dollars worth of illegal soap. When it comes to criminal enterprises, nothing seems to be off limits when it comes to making a quick buck.
After Putin sanctioned a ban on imported foods in 2014 in order to protest the West’s involvement in imposing sanctions on Ukrainian economics, counterfeit food products have been popping up all over Russia. The foods, mostly comprised of processed cheese products, are more than likely produced by local corporations anxious to cash in on the ban and fill barren grocery store shelves.
Russia isn’t the only country to see its fair share of counterfeit foods, in fact, it’s more widespread than we may think. Everything from coffee to truffle oil are passed off as the real deal regularly within our own country. While these products may not necessarily be harmful if we consume them, these knock-off products are intended to defraud consumers into purchasing sub-par products and line the pockets of the (legal) counterfeiters who produce them.
Not all of these products are legal, however, and clandestine home operations have attempted to use popular name brand labels in order to sell their fraudulent foods.
After it was discovered that a number of products being sold throughout Europe had been substituting horse meat for beef, a large scale investigation uncovered many other counterfeit products being sold in small shops. Most alarmingly, vodka being sold as Glen’s brand vodka was found to have been spiked with bleach to improve the color and contained a large amount of methanol, which can lead to blindness.
Inside underground Chinese workshops people worked night and day covering cheaply purchased latex fashioned into condoms with oil-based lubricant, then placing them into packaging branded as Durex and Trojan. The operation was uncovered after investigators found a popular Chinese website selling condoms at rock-bottom prices. The condoms were purchased and tested. Many of the condoms were found to contain holes and burst easily, causing major public health concerns. The condoms were just one of many counterfeit products found to have been manufactured illegally in China.