We’ve all been tempted. A Louis Vuitton handbag that looks like the real thing but is obviously fake because you’re considering buying it from the back of a lorry. Or how about the Prada dress hanging in your local couture import/export shop?
Of course, if you’ve given into temptation and bought a known-fake you don’t risk too much personally - maybe a smattering of humiliation when the friends you were trying to impress realize you’ve been sporting a fake.
Counterfeit alcohol, on the other hand, is a different story. It can be highly toxic to your health, even causing death.
But that’s where the differences between the two counterfeit luxury industries stop. Here are some similarities between the two that will make you think next time you’re deciding between the more expensive yet authentic product and the cheaper yet more dangerous version.
It may be obvious that counterfeit products are produced by criminals. After all, it is a product infringing on the trademark of a legitimate business for the personal gain of its owners. But it goes much further than that.
Criminal organisations from local mafias and street gangs to ideological militias and terrorists are using the fakes to fund their activities. In other words, if you’re buying fake wine and spirits, you’re essentially paying people whose objective is the demolition of your society to make you ill from drinking dangerous booze.
BILLION DOLLAR MARKETS
It’s no surprise criminal organisations have turned to illegitimate goods to fund their operations. Counterfeit goods are a $600 billion (£392 billion) global market with luxury items accounting for $325 billion of that. Of that luxury market, it is estimated that about 7% or $22 billion is fake. Counterfeit alcohol in the UK is worth £1 billion. That market just seems to keep growing with a 500% increase in counterfeit alcohol seizures in the last five years.
EVERYBODY’S DOING IT! SO WHY NOT ME?
In the UK, one in five people admit to having knowingly purchased fake wine and spirits while 18% say they do so sometime. That figure jumps to 41% of Britons admitting to buying fake fashion goods from time to time.