Counterfeit products can “blow up” your face, figuratively and literally

Christmas and Black Friday shoppers who want to shower their loved ones with luxurious gifts may be wise to avoid criminally good deals that undersell branded items like Chanels No. 5 with its distinctive yellow-colored perfume.

“Results have come back from the lab that it has been mixed with urine,” a Homeland Security Investigations spokesman said Thursday about counterfeit items seized by the agency earlier. “You never know what kind of liquid is actually inside a perfume bottle.”

There are greater dangers to the public than embracing the scent of a men’s bathroom as its characteristic scent.

Counterfeit Beats headphones, a Dyson supersonic hair dryer, Samsung phones, a BaByliss Pro straightener and even a modest box containing an “Apple” lightning-USB cable were laid out on a table with electronic items that the agency has caught in it southern Texas.

“Many objects have been known to explode,” said Maria Michel-Manzo, assistant specialist at HSI at McAllen. “They can cause a fire.”

Energy-intensive counterfeit products can use inferior batteries that will overcharge, overheat or explode, HSI said.

Boxes of FreshLook color switches that are considered medical devices, Ben New makeup and the fake Chanel No. 5 perfume can potentially pose a health hazard as well.

“People put them in their eyes and it can be harmful to your eyes,” Michel-Manzo said.

Perfumes and makeup manufactured in the FDA’s blind spot can be manufactured in accordance with federal rules and standards and use chemicals that can cause allergic reactions or other harm, the agency warned.

Many consumers working on smaller budgets while working to overcome pandemic-induced financial difficulties may be tempted to take the risk. Michel-Manzo said some will deliberately buy knock-offs without taking into account the effects it will have on the local and global economy.

“What’s the big deal if I buy them? You buy a stolen product because they steal the Louis Vuitton name, the Nike name, and they take that business away from them,” Michel-Manzo said.

Businesses that pay taxes and employ people are affected by the fake market, but the money that does not go into the local economy can also end up feeding criminal endeavors.

At the very least, consumers who buy from questionable websites, flea markets or livestreamers on social media platforms may be furious to know that counterfeit goods also have increases.

A “pull” of Chanel products including bracelets, belts, purses and wallets was recently seized in the Rio Grande Valley from a seller who bought some of the items for $ 6 (RM25) from a website and resold them for $ 20 (RM83). ) to US $ 30 (RM125), said HSI.

The estimated retail price of the majority of the seized products was estimated at around $ 120,000 (RM501,360).

The seller told agents that the products were purchased from a website that HSI has now removed, but closing illegitimate online stores is a challenge similar to beheading Medusa. Once one is closed, sellers quickly find another who is willing to offer incredible deals.

Part of their success in drawing naive customers is due to tactics they use such as using photographs from legitimate suppliers and copying and pasting them on their fake pages. Other control signs may be easier to spot, but it will not be until after money has been exchanged.

Slightly noticeable nuances on the label, sewing, fabric quality, stiffness of the leather or packaging can tip consumers with sharp eyes and sensitive senses of touch.

HSI does not ask the public to play undercover cop, but they do offer some tips and red flags that should not be ignored by knowledgeable bidders.

– Trust your gut feeling. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

– Only make purchases from sites that start with https.

Check the list of authorized vendors to find out if the site that sells the product is approved.

– Payments should never be made using personal finance applications.

– Check to make sure the seller has a return policy and a working 800 number.

– Read product reviews on sites and research companies you are not familiar with.

– Do not buy expensive items from third-party sites.

It may take a few extra minutes, but it is recommended to read product reviews on sites and research companies you do not know.

Better Business Bureau is a reliable source that offers an online search tool where complaints can be looked up for specific companies.

These are mostly reactionary methods that do not end up getting consumers their money back, but HSI encourages vigilance and critical thinking before giving up hard-earned money. – The Monitor, McAllen, Texas / Tribune News Service

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