Dangerous Counterfeit Make-up Products Flooding into the UK

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By Chloe Crockford

City of London police have launched a campaign to tackle an estimated 90m industry selling counterfeit make-up, containing dangerous levels of lead, mercury and cyanide. The ‘Wake up don’t fake up’ campaign aims to inform consumers about the dangers and hazards involved with buying the fake goods.

Criminal gangs are using underground laboratories in order to produce the counterfeit products, and are then selling them on using popular and high sought after names. Popular brands such as MAC, Benefit and Urban Decay have been targeted to replicate their products and sold online at a low cost price. Buyers have been suffering severe allergic reactions including skin irritation, swelling, rashes and burns and in some cases buyers now suffer long term health problems.

With the growing popularity of online shopping, officers have so far suspended 5,500 websites for selling the goods in the past 18months, confiscating almost £3.5million worth of fake products. The products were accessible to purchase through leading websites such as eBay and Amazon.

Fake cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and foundation were found to contain toxic levels of chemical and harmful substances including arsenic, mercury and lead. With the products being produced in such unhygienic factories, some were also found to contain rat droppings and poison.

Sun creams and perfumes have also been targeted and duplicated, but have been found to be fake and causing dangerous consequences. The sun creams have been found to contain little or no sun protection, exposing consumers to harmful UV rays which could lead to long term skin damage. The counterfeit perfume had also been found to contain poisonous chemicals including cyanide and even in some cases human urine.

Fake electrical items have also been being sold online and have also shown to have an alarming health and safety risk. Safety tests have found that some units were prone to over heating and presenting a fire risk. They were also found to cause electrocution, a huge danger to consumers, their health and also their home.

The products are usually made in China or Eastern Europe and then shipped into the UK in plain containers. These goods are then either sold online or on market stalls. Luxury brands in which these criminals are attempting to duplicate are not often sold at such a discount price.

Victims of the fake goods have not only been sent hazardous products, but have also had their details stolen and then used to purchase further goods, or to set up hundreds more websites to sell even more counterfeit products.

Big brands and household names have been widely targeted, making it such a successful business. However, the health risk and concerns are something that the ‘Wake Up Don’t Fake Up’ campaign are eagerly trying to inform consumers.

If it is too good to be true, it probably is.


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