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.

In the English city of Sheffield, security officers and public health programs are seeing an increase in illegal bottles of counterfeit alcohol.

In the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year, officials in the city seized 554 bottles of counterfeit alcohol. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the number of fake bottles seized increased to 1,470. Halfway through the 2013-2014 fiscal year, authorities have already seized 2,370 bottles of counterfeit alcohol.

Most of the fake alcohol bottles are marketed as Vodka. After studying the bottles, Trading Standards officials have determined that most of the alcohol that is used in the fake bottles are either cleaning fluids or antifreeze. With the other chemicals, the fake bottles of vodka end up being made of 57 percent alcohol.

Sheffield is not the only city in the United Kingdom facing threats from counterfeit alcohol. In Scotland, security services with HMRC seized 13,000 liters of counterfeit vodka in September 2013 alone.

Security experts state that price is a main cause for the counterfeits. For a single 70cl bottle of vodka, the duty and VAT is $14.52 (£8.89).

Source:  Brian Milligan, “Fake vodka ‘can kill you’ warning to Christmas shoppers,” BBC News, December 20, 2013.

Criminal justice programs in Iran show that 80 to 90 percent of all cosmetics that are imported into Iran are counterfeits. Most of the counterfeit cosmetics are manufactured in China, Thailand or Turkey, according to security experts.

Due to the high rate of fakes, dermatologists in Iran recommended their patients to only use domestic cosmetic labels. The cosmetics that are made in Iran are regulated by the government.

The market value of the cosmetics industry in Iran is around $2 Billion a year, with Iranian females between the ages of 15 to 45 accounting for one third of all cosmetics sales in the Middle East.

Source:  Mehrnaz Samimi, “Cosmetics boom in Iran,” Al-Monitor, December 17, 2013.

In 2012, government security services in Italy seized 28,000 tons of counterfeit food labels or adulterated products that was falsely labeled during the year. The counterfeit foods seized were worth $684 Million (€500 Million).

47 percent of the counterfeit labels involved Italian wine products.

4.6 tons of fake foods involved canned tomatoes, which were falsely labeled as organic or being produced in Italy.

Source:  “Food pirates peddling fake olive oil, Chinese tomato sauce,” Ansa, December 5, 2013.

In 2008, file sharing of pirated content online accounted for 31 percent of all Internet traffic, according to Sandvine, a network equipment company.

In 2013, file sharing activity accounted for less than 10 percent of overall Internet activity.

Entertainment officials attribute the drop to the rise in free online streaming sites. In a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, when ABC added television shows to popular streaming site Hulu, the illegal pirating of those shows dropped almost 20 percent when compared with a control group.

Source:  Joshua Brustein, “Want to Fight Off Content Pirates? Just Stream Your Show for Free,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 2, 2013.

According to the Chairman of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, up to 90 percent of all cancer drugs in Hong Kong are bought by residents of mainland China.

The mainlanders illegally buy the cancer drugs such as Herceptin in Hong Kong due to concerns about the medical counterfeit drugs and other safety issues. In addition, the cost to purchase drugs is cheaper than on the mainland. One man who was buying breast cancer treatment drugs for his wife stated that he would saave over $1,313 (8,000 Yuan) buying Herceptin in Hong Kong than in China.

Source:  AFP, “Hong Kong’s illegal cancer drug trade driven by mainland buyers,” Google News, December 2, 2013.


During a ten year span, 15 people were convicted for human trafficking crimes in Australia, according to research conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

8 of the 15 were women.

The institute found that all of the women traffickers were born in the same foreign country as the victims and typically came from the same socio-economic status.

Based on reports from criminal justice programs in Australia, none of the people convicted for human trafficking had links to organized crime. The traffickers were generally small operations that relied upon business or family contacts to recruit victims.

In addition to human trafficking, these traffickers in Australia committed immigration fraud such as fake id cards and visa permits, as well as various money laundering activities.

(Price of human trafficking victims.)

Source:  Australian Associated Press, “Human traffickers are mostly women, Australian Institute of Criminology report finds,” Sydney Morning Herald, November 28, 2013.

The academic journal Science reported that scientists in China pay between $1,500 to $24,850 to have their names listed as authors in academic papers.

One such paper that offered authorship for sale included a study on Alzheimer that was published in a legitimate Canadian journal.

The black market in authorship has around 27 Chinese companies that offer editing and research services. According to Science, the companies offer slots on papers written by legitimate scientists, plagiarize a separate paper, or create fake data and write a completely new paper.

Previously, the Economist magazine reported that fake research and academic papers industry in China generated $150 Million a year.

(Prices to buy a fake diploma online.)

Source:  Margaret Munro, “China’s academic ‘black market’ fooled Canadian journal, report says,” Province, November 28, 2013.

Police in Macedonia arrested a man who was selling counterfeit degrees to the State University of Tetovo, a legitimate university.

The man was selling the fake degrees to customers located in Italy for $34,000 (€25,000).

Educational officials and security agencies reported that between 18 counterfeit university diplomas and 49 fake high school diplomas have been seized in Macedonia between 2008 and 2012.

(More statistics about the fake diploma industry.)

Source:  Miki Trajkovski, “Police planning to stop counterfeit degrees,”, November 28, 2013.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police saw an increase in the number of cases involving harmful counterfeit goods in Canada between 2005 and 2013.

In 2005, harmful counterfeits were involved with 11.5 percent of cases. By 2012, there were over 200 cases, or 30.4 percent of cases, that involved harmful fakes of toys, drugs, cosmetics, batteries and electronics.

In 2012, the counterfeit good that was most seized by the RCMP was replica clothing and replica shoes, which accounted for 45 percent of all counterfeits seized, followed by pirated movies and music with 20 percent.

Source:  Rita Demontis, “Beware of counterfeit goods on Black Friday,” Toronto Sun, November 28, 2013.

Romania’s Custom Service stated in a report that about 50 percent of all “brand name” products that are available for sale in retail shops in Romania are actually counterfeit.

Counterfeit goods from China enter the Romania market through smuggling routes that pass through Moldova and Ukraine.

Some of the items seized by security services in 2013 included thousands of counterfeit Bulgari, Patek Philippe and Rolex watches, as well as counterfeit cosmetics destined for the Britain market. Romania also has the highest number of counterfeit toys seized within its border each year.

The country has also become the starting point for smugglers moving contraband across European Union members. Fake luxury goods, smuggled tobacco and illicit drugs are smuggled from Turkey through Bulgaria and into Turkey on its way to various EU markets.

Source:  Jon Coates, “Britain to be hit with a flood of fake goods as migrants swarm in,” Sunday Express, November 24, 2013.