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Purchasing counterfeit products isn't a victimless crime

The costs of being a fake fashionista Purchasing counterfeit products isn't a victimless crime.

1. The buyer deprives designers and other copyright holders of the fruits of their labors and unfairly transfers those profits to others.
2. Fake goods undermine innovation, hurting consumers and businesses alike. Why should talented designers create an awesome handbag or iPhone case if they can't reap the financial rewards of their creativity?
3. Counterfeiters "do not pay taxes, meaning less money for your city's schools, hospitals, parks and other social programs," says the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting intellectual property.
4. Because most counterfeit goods are produced in sweatshops run by organized crime, profits often support terrorist groups, drug smugglers, sex traffickers and street gangs. Sweatshops, in turn, are notorious for violating child-labor laws and basic human rights, and many workers are coerced through a system of indentured servitude, a form of modern-day slavery.
5. Few consumers want to subsidize organized crime, of course. Most simply don't realize that's what they're doing when they buy logoed items or pirated DVDs from a vendor charging rock-bottom prices for goods that are supposed to be the real thing. Not just fashion: Deadly fakes The problem isn't confined to fake designer apparel. There are counterfeit pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, computer parts and software, cars and car parts, motorcycles, airplane parts, compact discs, DVDs, toys, watches and jewelry, just for starters.

Some fakes are unsafe, or worse. Counterfeit drugs that supposedly treat cancer, HIV and malaria have led to deaths, as have counterfeit electronics, vehicle airbags, cosmetics, baby formula and other food products.

Unlike legitimate products, counterfeits aren't inspected or regulated by government agencies, so consumers have no guarantees of safety or efficacy. Cracking down on counterfeiting protects consumers - and legitimate jobs and industries worldwide. Consumer beware - and be aware Fake luxury items are also sold online, frequently through websites designed to look like legitimate retail sites.

Doing business on those illegal websites could cost you dearly.

Buying on illegal websites puts you at risk for identity theft and credit card fraud when you provide a counterfeit merchant with your information, says the IACC, and "downloading or streaming from illegal websites could put you at risk for malware, which can steal your personal or credit card information."

Consumers of counterfeit goods are also at risk of fines or even arrest.

"In France and Italy, the penalty for purchasing a counterfeit item can be as much as 300,000 euros [$322,176] and, in France, even jail time," adds Susan Scafidi, an expert on international fashion law who directs the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University Law School in New York. Courtesy: Nice kicks. But what if they were made by a slave?

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