Consumer goods

Consumer goods

Counterfeiting crimes have been taking the form of real business activities, as they are able to reproduce the most diverse product industries, such as clothing, accessories, leather goods, luxury products, perfumes, and recently also food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.

Until 20 years ago, the counterfeiting phenomena mostly concerned luxury goods, which guaranteed manufacturers and sellers of fakes huge profits by marketing small amounts of items at high prices; the reproduction of the goods required considerable technical skills and craft, allowing to transform cheap materials into precious products capable of deceiving even experienced purchasers. The features of such counterfeit products consisted in the accuracy of the items, in their small numbers and in the relatively high sales price of each single product which would guarantee an adequate profit margin, without alerting the purchaser, who was convinced he was buying genuine goods at a price that was lower than the official one. 

In the beginning of the 1980s though, the areas of production and marketing of “fake artifacts” had already undergone deep transformations: the counterfeiting market trend shifted towards the manufacture and sale of commodity goods, such as medicines, devises, perfumes, cosmetics and detergents, home appliances, auto spare parts, gadgets, travel tickets, engravings, prints and lithographic works.

In the last five years, the Guardia di Finanza has seized - in average, per year – nearly 428 million counterfeit or unsafe consumer goods. (see. chart).

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 Source: G. di F.
Medicines and equipment
The WHO defines a counterfeit medicine as one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to contents or source of the product.
It is in the last decade that the phenomenon of the manufacture and sale of counterfeit medicine has reached such proportions as to pose a serious public health problem, in addition to causing economic damage. 
In developing countries, counterfeiting is extremely common, mainly because of insufficient human and financial resources and a weak legislation on manufacturing, distribution and import of medicines. The problem mainly affects lifesaving drugs such as antibiotics, antimalarial, antiruburculous and anti-retroviral drugs for AIDs therapy.
In industrialized countries pharmaceutical counterfeiting has features and quantities to those of developing countries. In fact, the problem affects mainly new and expensive drugs, so-called "life-style products" (anabolics, growth hormones, some  glucocorticoids, products for impotence and some psychotropic substances). These counterfeit products are often illegally marketed in so-called "afro-shops", in gyms and on the Internet.
When we speak about the counterfeiting of products such as perfumes, it is mostly the counterfeiting/imitation of a known brand, as it is very difficult to counterfeit an essence in its exact form and quality.
The essences of the most famous world brands are created prevalently by international enterprises whose ethics does not allow them to produce the same composition or imitation for 2 different clients/brands. To manufacture a perfume requires a difficult and complex process of preparation and selection of raw materials, the quality of which is not always easily obtainable or reproducible.
In 2015 the Gdf seized perfumes for a counter-value equal to euros 1.637.950.
Cosmetics and detergents
In 2015, the number of items seized by the GdF was 11,636,236. In this sector, operation “Bolle di sapone”, conducted by the Lecce Provincial Command, allowed to dismantle a criminal group that had set up an actual production district to manufacture counterfeit products of the most well-known producers of detergents and personal hygiene. In particular, the plastic containers, the caps and the product labels were prepared in 4 different industrial facilities. Afterwards, all parts were assembled in another establishment for the production and distribution, at extremely competitive prices, to trusted clients for resale. At the end of the investigations, almost 100 thousand counterfeit products were sized and 40 individuals were reported for their different levels of involvement. 
Before purchasing a cosmetic product, it is important to carefully read the list of ingredients. They should be listed in a descending order: first those contained in the higher quantities and then the others until below 1%, which can be indicated in random order.
Household appliances
Non-tested appliances may pose a risk. By law, the name of the importer, manufacturer and distributor should always be indicated, otherwise the product is considered to be unsafe. 
Unlike other product sectors in which the manufacturers of fakes are also Italian, this one consists mainly of trademark imitation and manufacture that takes place abroad, followed by the import and sale in Italy.
The appliances lack safety standards, are sold outside authorized circuits, that is door-to-door, during conventions, auctions and teleshopping on regional and national TV stations.
Car parts
These are among the most counterfeited products. And most of all, there is a safety issue. To drive a car with unsafe parts poses a serious risk.
According to the UE legislation, all parts and components that are essential to safety and the environmental impact of motor vehicles are required to be tested before placing them on the market in the EU. Counterfeiters disregard such requisites, and the level of this is not negligible. 
The most counterfeited spare parts are the brake pads. Fakes are often manufactured by using poor material, such as wood shavings or even grass.
Gadgets and travel tickets
“Made in China” train tickets. Not only toys, clothing, food, now Chinese counterfeiters also try with Trenitalia train tickets. 
In the port of Livorno, agents of the Guardia di Finanza, in cooperation with Customs officers, seized over 2 million tickets for the route Rome Termini – Fiumicino Airport. If placed on the market, the tickets would made the fraudsters earn illicit profits for approximately 28.5 million euros.
This huge number of fake tickets had been artfully concealed inside a container from China offloaded on the wharf of the Livorno port. It also contained, as cover-up goods, various office furniture and equipment. The fake status of the tickets was confirmed by an official of the company Trenitalia, whose expert report indicated that the "Made in China" tickets are technically different from the originals. Follow-up investigations into the data contained in the Customs transport documents allowed to identify a Chinese firm, operating in the business area of Sesto Fiorentino, as the company responsible for the fraud.
                    Engravings, prints and lithographic works
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Following Operation “Cromos”, almost 6 million popular “Calciatori Panini” collector cards of the last soccer season were also seized.

The investigations conducted by the Tax Police Units of Modena, allowed to reconstruct the entire production line that was “managed” by an “unfaithful” former employee of the company who was able to run an actual “illegal parallel market”.

In particular, some members of the organization had the task of procuring the raw materials, while others scanned and printed the cards (this took place in Spain), and still others were tasked with packaging and distribution to various sellers.



Links for further information:
 -guide published by the Ministry of Economic development: IO NON VOGLIO IL FALSO - ELETTRODOMESTICI E RICAMBI AUTO/MOTO
 -guide published by the Ministry of Economic development: IO NON VOGLIO IL FALSO - COSMETICI