Counterfeit Goods

Information and statistics about counterfeiting and the sale of counterfeit goods. Estimated losses from counterfeits, markets where fake goods are sold, and other piracy statistics are collected from criminal justice programs and public information sources.

Security services in Nigeria seized a shipping container in December 2013 that contained over 40,000 pirated books that were on its way to be sold within the country.

The 1X20 foot container contained 1,336 cartons filled with pirated copies of books. In total, Customs officials stated that 40,080 copies of pirated books with a retail value of $125,129 (20,040,000 Nigerian Naira) were seized.

The pirated books included popular American titles and language dictionaries.

Source:  Mos Abaka, “NCC confiscates 40,080 copies of pirated books,” WorldStage News, January 23, 2014.

According to statistics released by state media, security services in China arrested nearly 60,000 people for violating intellectual property in 2013. The total estimated value of the counterfeits and fakes seized by China was $28 Billion (173 Billion Yuan).

Over 90 million tons of counterfeit goods were seized by security services across China in 2013. Included in the seizures were 300 million counterfeit drug pills worth $360 Million.

1,260 organized crime gangs who were involved in counterfeiting were also broken up during the year.

Source:  Associated Press, “China Seized 60,000 Piracy Suspects Last Year,” ABC News, January 21, 2014.

An immigrant living in the United Kingdom illegally for 5 years reportedly paid $1,642 (£1,000) for a blank passport on the black market.

The passport was available due to theft in 2089 where 3,650 blank passports and 8,100 blank visas were stolen from a delivery van. Most of the blank passports and visas have been recovered by security officers. The theft was later found to have been an insider job.

(More fake ids on the black market information.)

Source:  “Illegal immigrant stayed in Britain for five years using blank passport he bought on the UK black market for £1,000 which had been stolen with 3,600 others in £2.5m raid,” Daily Mail, January 17, 2014.

In 2013, over 350 million ads were taken down and removed by Google for promoting websites that sells counterfeit goods or were offering suspect downloads or other malicious activities. The number of ads taken down by Google in 2013 was an increase from the 220 million ads taken down in 2012.

Back in 2012, the number of advertisers dropped by Google was over 850,000. In 2013, less malicious advertisers attempted to get their ads into the Adwords network as a little over 270,000 advertisers were dropped.

14,000 advertisers were banned for attempting to sell counterfeit goods in 2013, a decline of over 80 percent of 2012.

In addition, over 200,000 websites and over 250,000 publisher accounts were kicked off the ad network for artificially inflating their ad revenue through click fraud or placing ads on sites that violated Google’s term of use.

Source:  Alistar Barr, “Google steps up fight against ‘bad’ ad barrage,” USA Today,

An organized crime ring in Turkey was broken up by police for selling counterfeit drugs to patients in Turkey and the United States. The ring was packaging flu medicine that was worth $1.34 (3 Turkish Lira), and selling the medicine as fake cancer drugs to cancer patients for $671 (1,500 Lira). The sellers would track cancer patients and approach them outside hospitals and were even able to get their counterfeit drugs into pharmacies.

Security officials in Turkey has seized approximately 2 million packages of counterfeit drugs between 2010 and 2012. The value of the fakes were worth $2.6 Million (6 Million Liras). 750 websites were shut down during the time period for selling counterfeit drugs in Turkey.

Most of the fake medicines are sold on the Internet or on the black market by relatives. Counterfeits have also been able to enter the pharmacy supply chain. In February 2013, counterfeited versions of the cancer drug Avastin was bought in Turkey and then shipped across the Middle East and Europe.

Source:   “Turkey fights back against counterfeit medications,” Jornal of Turkish Weekly, January 18, 2014.

The European Central Bank stated that 353,000 counterfeit euro bills were removed from circulation in the second half of 2013. The number of fake euros removed was 11.4 percent higher than the amount removed from circulation in the first half of 2013.

There are a total of 15 billion euro banknotes in circulation.

(All counterfeit money statistics.)

Source:  “Euro banknotes will remain paper, not plastic,” Reuters, January 13, 2014.

Online websites that offer to write essays and college papers reportedly charge between $13 to $40 per page. The price for the paper varies depending on how quickly the paper needs to be written, as well as the grade level of the customer.

In an interview with a ghost writer conducted by Gulf News, one writer who caters to the Middle East stated that he charges about $27 (100 UAE Dirham) per page, but could charge as much as $544 (2,000 Dirham) per page depending on the topic. The ghost writer stated that the end of the semester is his busiest time, where he could be writing papers for up to 40 clients. He writes out each paper using original research, and caters his English language skills to match his client. After he writes the paper, he explains the ideas and concepts with the customer so that the student can defend the paper to the instructor.

(Information about buying fake degrees and fake diplomas.)

Another ghost writer, who works full time in an corporate setting, claims that she can make up to $1361 (5,000 Dirham) for writing a paper on a short deadline.

In the United Kingdom, the online essay writing industry is estimated to be worth $330 Million (£200 Million).

Source:  Noor Nazzal, “Sale of black-market essays to university students on the rise,” Gulf News, December 28, 2013.

In the first ten months of 2013, authorities in Ireland seized 929 liters of counterfeit alcohol across the country. In 2012, the number of fake alcohol bottles  that were seized total 232. Vodka was reported to be the most counterfeited bottle in 2013.

Criminal justice programs state that counterfeiters use legitimate alcohol bottles when making counterfeits. The real bottles are taken from recycling centers or directer from bars and pubs. The bottles are then filled with raw alcohol and then diluted with water to achieve a 37.5 to 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Although bootleg alcohol seizures increased in 2013, the number of cigarette packs seized from the black market decreased in Ireland. In 2012, a total of 95 million cigarettes were seized across Ireland. In 2013, the number of smuggled cigarettes seized decreased to 37.7 million.

Source:  Kitty Holland, “Bootleg alcohol seizures rise dramatically,” Irish Times, December 28, 2013.

The Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry reported that over 120,000 counterfeit Swiss watches were seized during anti-counterfeiting campaigns in 2013. In a single raid on a warehouse in Dubai, authorities seized about 90,000 fake Swiss watches.

In addition to the counterfeit watches, nearly 700,000 components used to make counterfeit Swiss watches were also seized during 2013.

The counterfeit watch industry is estimated to generate up to $1 Billion in sales each year.

The legitimate Swiss Watch Industry had exports worth $23.9 Billion in 2012.

Source:  “Fake watches crackdown deemed a success,” swissinfo.ch, December 27, 2013.

Security officers with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in the Philippines seized counterfeit goods worth a total of $174 Million (7.76 Billion Philippine Pesos) in 2013. The value of the fake goods seized in 2013 was higher than the $118 Million (5.27 Billion Pesos) seized in 2012.

Among the counterfeit items seized by criminal justice departments were replica handbagsclothing and counterfeit electronics.

Source:  Louella Desiderio, “Gov’t seizes 47% more fake items this year,” Philippine Star, December 22, 2013.