Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A World of Fake

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery - but I really must say that imitation is hazardous... to your health; to your economy; and to my livelihood.

I'm watching a programme on CNBC called "Crime Inc: Counterfeit Goods." It is an examincation of the counterfeit-goods industry, and includes a profile on the Los Angeles Police Department's anti-counterfeiting unit; inspections at ports for counterfeit goods; backroom factories where counterfeits are produced; and a couple who was paralyzed by faux Botox.

I never really used to care much about the act of counterfeiting goods until I worked at Christian Dior. When I'd see people with fake handbags and luxury items, whether from Dior or any other brand, I'd get so upset. Why? Because I know that those skilled artisans who have mastered their craft and create the real versions were missing out on money that should be rightfully theirs. Let alone the shipping companies who lose out on transporting legitimate goods, the countless people employed by those luxury houses who manage, promote, market, analyze, track, and sell those oh-so-fabulous goods.

Counterfeit goods extends so much farther than luxury knockoffs. From fake Disney toys, to computer parts, to appliances, to extension cords, to laundry detergent, if there are products in demand, you can assume there are counterfeit versions available. And these goods are potentially hazardous to your health. Think about it - those who produce counterfeit goods only have one thing on their mind. Not your safety. Not brand integrity. Not quality materials. PROFIT! The counterfeit industry is in existence solely for one purpose - to make money.

In 2005, nearly US$ 500 million dollars in tax revenue was lost due to the counterfeit goods industry. Whenever you buy fake goods, not only are you putting your own health at risk, but you also directly support economies other than your own. Your neighbours suffer. Your local government has less resources.

Among the most lethal counterfeits are medicine. From fake cough syrup to cancer treatments, the counterfeit medicine industry is nearly US$75 million this year alone. These ingredients are also very toxic, rarely tested, and incredibly harmful. Drugs appear shiny and clean, because counterfeiters hope you can't tell a difference.

Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware. I can't help but think of the song "The Boy is Mine" from singers Brandy and Monica - "From the truth you can't escape, I can tell the real from the fake!"

Can you?

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