Fake goods valued at $6.5M seized in Toronto
'Unsafe' knockoffs included Viagra, cosmetics, contact lenses
Police in Toronto have charged 21 people in an investigation involving millions of dollars in fake goods and products, including wine, cosmetics and male-enhancement medications, such as Viagra.
More than 100 charges were laid in connection with the sale of fake consumer goods worth an estimated $6.5 million, police say.
The goods, which police said were "substandard and potentially hazardous" included everything from knock off versions of Viagra and Cialis to makeup, contact lenses, even ice wine and TTC tokens.
Police said the fake TTC tokens were smuggled to Canada from China inside shower curtain rods. Police told CBC News they believe they are in circulation.
Goods don't meet safety standards
"These goods don't meet safety standards, and they introduce significant health and safety risk," said Toronto Det.-Const. Andrea Chedas. "The majority of customers are unaware they are purchasing low-cost, unreliable, fake goods that could pose serious health and safety risks to the public."
Toronto police Det. Natalie Hegarty said buying the fake products, such as the contact lenses police seized at a flea market in Barrie, Ont., would be risky because the products have not undergone health and safety inspections.
"I'm no doctor but I would be concerned," she said.
Police said consumers are often tempted by the low prices of knockoff products. It's no accident that police held their news conference about the seizures on Black Friday, when shoppers are out looking for deals.
"Some of these products cost $300, $400 if not $1,000, and when the general public sees these for $40 or $50, I think that's a huge red flag for them," said Hegarty. "They need to be aware that they're probably buying a counterfeit product."
During the investigation, which involved the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and police forces from multiple jurisdictions in Ontario, police executed search warrants on retailers who operated at the Canadian National Exhibition, and at stores such as Wireless Wave.