A recent sweep of small shops in Croydon by the trading standards team has found counterfeit business to be rampant and dangerous, with fake condoms and potentially toxic alcohol topping the list of goods seized.
Trading standards manager, Alan Philips, said: “A lot of the items we have seized recently have been on sale in local shops and have been priced at the same level as the real things. In these cases people may well be fooled into thinking that they have bought the genuine article – and in the worst cases this can be extremely dangerous.”
Items confiscated include fake Durex condoms, cheap Cava masquerading as Bollinger champagne, imitation Glen’s vodka and Duracell batteries that were either nearly dead or potentially dangerous if they were to overheat. Counterfeit vodka often contains higher levels of methanol, increasing the risk of methanol poisoning which can cause blindness and even death.
Louise Garbutt, a 27-year-old fees clerk from Coulsdon, said: “I think I’d be really annoyed to buy something that was counterfeit when I thought it was real. I’d be quite angry about it to be honest, as you’re paying full price.
“I would always go to a chain to buy something anyway; I would never go into one of these odd shops.”
Marleine Griffin, a 23-year-old housekeeping assistant from Addiscombe, said: “That’s bad, it shouldn’t happen with condoms. If it’s a counterfeit condom then in some cases it could be a life or death situation, you could catch HIV or other STDs. I’m sure most people, if they knew that these condoms are not 100 percent safe, would not buy them.
Daniel Movahedi, a 25-year-old postman and personal trainer from Addiscombe, said: “That does make me angry. You see everywhere that the government is trying to tackle underage sex, underage pregnancies and stuff like that, so the Council should actually come down hard on them if they are selling fake condoms.
“The shop is only interested in making money, not in the safety of the person that’s buying. So they should definitely fine them, stop it or shut them down.”
Steve O’Connell, cabinet member for community safety, issued a stern warning to traders in Croydon.
“Don’t buy stock from anyone who turns up in a white van with cut-price goods and no paperwork,” he said.
“We simply won’t tolerate shops trying to con their customers – potentially putting their health or even their lives at risk. When we find counterfeits on shop shelves we will seize them immediately – and in serious cases we will seek prosecutions.”
Croydon Council also advises customers to be aware of scams online. They advise people to visit: www.getsafeonline.org