Anti-crime boss targets £3.6trillion illicit trade in cheap fake goods

Anti-crime boss targets £3.6tn illicit trade, urging cash-strapped customers to ‘think twice’ before buying cheap fake goods

Warning: The scale of the problem is huge

The boss of an international crime-busting agency has urged cash-strapped customers to ‘think twice’ before buying the cheap fake goods that fuel a global racket worth more than the British economy. 

The scale of the problem is huge. A study for the International Chamber of Commerce found that the cost of illicit trade globally was £3.6trillion. 

Shane Britten, who runs Crime Stoppers International, told The Mail on Sunday that the cost-of-living crisis may lead people to turn to counterfeit clothes, cigarettes and bootleg booze to save money. 

But he warned the illegal trade, which costs the UK taxpayer an estimated £8billion a year, was ‘not a victimless crime’. 

‘If you’re thinking of buying a fake designer handbag that’s been stitched together by a nine-year-old in indebted labour, and you saw a picture of that child chained to a table while they did it, you’d think twice about buying it,’ he said. 

More than half of British consumers had bought a counterfeit product online in a 12-month period, according to a 2018 study by the European Commission. 

The most popular items were shoes, clothes and accessories such as handbags, purses and wallets. 

But the cost of trading in fake goods is more than just financial. ‘Criminal gangs don’t just do one crime type,’ 

Britten added. ‘They get into people trafficking, sex slavery, terrorism – there’s a dark world behind it all.’ Britten wants to see more cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the companies whose goods are being pirated.