British retailers have been told to be wary of the “dark side of Black Friday”, as the authorities ramp up efforts to bring counterfeiters to justice.
Serious and corporate crime defence specialists Rahman Ravelli, has warned traders that they could be the biggest victims of the growing counterfeiting problem over the sales period.
The global counterfeit goods industry is said to be worth nearly half a trillion dollars per year, according to the OECD, and the supply of fake products typically increases around major seasonal sales periods.
Figures from IMRG showed that UK consumers spent an estimated £6.5bn during the whole Black Friday/Cyber Monday week in 2016 and retailers of all sizes are expected to cash in again this year.
However, Aziz Rahman, senior partner at Rahman Ravelli said that in the rush to boost profits, retailers could be putting their livelihoods at risk by getting mixed up in counterfeit goods unknowingly.
Rahman said: “There are more counterfeiting seizures being carried out, which means more people are likely to face prosecution. A sales day such as Black Friday intensifies the desire for a bargain and, therefore, creates a demand that can be filled by people supplying counterfeit goods.
“If a case involving a breach of the Trade Marks Act 1994 goes to Crown Court, a person found guilty can face unlimited fines and up to 10 years in prison. What also must be remembered is that under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the authorities have the power to confiscate the assets of anyone who has obtained them through illegal activity.”
He added: “Prosecutions can be brought under the Act against anyone in the chain of counterfeit goods: from manufacture, packaging and distribution through to them being offered for sale.”