CBC MARKETPLACE: YOUR HOME » COUNTERFEITS
Broadcast: April 9,
aren't just back alley commodities. They're
turning up in surprising places. (CBC)
You might expect to find knockoffs
of familiar products being hawked on sidewalks, at flea
markets and dollar stores.
And you might think the counterfeits
are limited to flashy watches, CDs and handbags.
These days though, the multi-billion dollar
counterfeit industry is branching out, manufacturing
everything from cellphone batteries to power cords – all
of them knock offs, all of them potentially dangerous
because they may not meet Canadian safety standards.
And fake products aren't the only potential
danger for consumers.
electrical products, pharmaceuticals, automotive
parts, and food products have entered the Canadian
There's a new trend among counterfeiters:
faking the safety labels you normally find on products
that have been safety tested.
That means the product
itself might not be counterfeit, but the safety labelling
on it is – if it bears any
safety labelling at all – leaving consumers with
the false impression that it's met Canadian standards.
And what's really surprising is that uncertified electrical products aren't just back alley commodities as you might expect – they're turning up in some surprising places, including mainstream retail stores.
Ken Hansen, head of the RCMP's anti-counterfeit
squad, says fake safety labelling on electrical products
has become a more common trick in the past three years.
He's seen phoney safety stickers on everything from glue
guns to industrial circuit breakers.
Hansen says the counterfeiters are
driven by one thing: profit. "[The products] seem
to be certified ... so they can sell them at a much
higher price and they'll make a profit. There's probably
more profit in doing these types of crimes than there
is in illicit drugs... There’s much less risk
Hansen says the bad guys are attracted
to the fact that counterfeit safety labelling can expose
them to a much larger potential consumer base than the
old staples of organized crime:
"Who buys products such
as electrical circuit breakers or glue guns or batteries?
So your market in Canada is 33 million people."
Bought something with
If you bought a product that you suspect bears
fake safety labels, you're encouraged to report
If you think the product is a fire hazard, report
it to your local fire authority immediately.
If the product has what appears to be a fake safety
label, report it to the safety
authority on the label. These are the most common:
Each province/territory has its own authority
responsible for interpreting the national safety
code - you can also contact your provincial/territorial
government if you would like to report
a suspicious product/safety label.
Since the counterfeiters don't have to
spend money on product research and development, taxes
or quality control, they can operate with enormous profits,
offering their goods at what might appear to be bargain
But while they may look the same, counterfeit
and uncertified products pose a threat because they may
not be up to Canadian safety standards, something Newfoundland
grandmother Julia Kenny knows
all too well.