The press release issued by the Home Office on 21 December 2023.
Border Force seized almost one million items of counterfeit goods worth nearly £200 million in 2023, with fake electricals targeted in the run-up to Christmas.
An intensive Border Force operation to tackle counterfeit electrical goods in the run-up to Black Friday and Christmas led to more than £170,000 worth of seizures.
Operation Rivean, a concerted Border Force operation targeting electrical counterfeit products, ran for 3 weeks from 20 November 2023 and targeted counterfeit electrical being shipped into the UK as Christmas gifts.
The operation saw Border Force officers seize 250 counterfeit Dyson-branded haircare products, which would have a retail value worth more than £98,000 were they genuine.
Officers also seized 120 GHD-branded counterfeit hair styling tools, valued at £31,980, as well as 640 non-branded hair straighteners that were found to be a safety risk as they did not meet health and safety laws and standards.
Furthermore, 8,880 counterfeit Oral B and Philips Sonicare branded electronic toothbrush heads were also seized, worth over £42,000.
Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Legal Migration and Delivery, said:
We are determined to crack down on the illegal trade of counterfeit goods and the criminals that drive it.
Counterfeit goods fund serious crime, endanger customers, harm legitimate businesses and contribute to the loss of tens of thousands of British jobs every year.
Our Border Force officers have been working relentlessly to seize dangerous electrical counterfeit products, and I urge the public to buy genuine products for Christmas this year.
According to the Intellectual Property Office, an estimated 98% of counterfeit electrical goods fail product safety tests, meaning they can damage other possessions, pose a fire safety risk, as well as cause injury to the consumer and their family.
Among the products seized were 250 counterfeit Dyson-branded products, which included fake Supersonic hairdryers, as well as counterfeit copies of the Airwrap multi-styler, a hair styling tool.
Giles Lane, Senior IP Legal Counsel at Dyson, said:
We welcome UK Border Force’s continued efforts to protect consumers and our owners during this busy time of year. Consumers should be alert to the dangers of counterfeit products – particularly in the holiday season, when counterfeiters capitalise on shoppers looking to secure a deal on their gifts.
Genuine Dyson machines are the product of years of diligent research, development, and engineering. They contain the technology we are known for and are manufactured to our exacting quality, safety, and durability standards. Counterfeiters cut corners and make unsafe goods that put people at risk.
Shoppers looking to purchase the latest Dyson products are advised to buy directly from Dyson – via our website, Dyson Demo stores or trusted retailers.
Operation Rivean forms just part of Border Force’s continued determination to seize counterfeit products all year round. So far this year, there have been over 2,000 separate seizures, with almost one million counterfeit goods removed from the marketplace, which would have had a value of just under £200 million were they legitimate products.
Last week, counterfeit Apple, Samsung and PlayStation products with a retail value of over £500,000 were seized at Felixstowe Port.
Miles Rees, Deputy Directory of IP Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said:
The sale of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime. It has been estimated to contribute to over 80,000 job losses a year in the UK, diverting funds away from legitimate traders and into the hands of criminals.
We are pleased to support the activity by UK Border Force to help disrupt the supply of such illicit goods and protect the public. As well as being linked to serious and organised criminality on a global scale, the trade in these goods presents real dangers for those using them, as they are not subject to the usual safety checks and very often are made to an extremely poor quality.
We continue to work with our partners to highlight the harms to the public, communities and our economy of buying counterfeits, empowering consumers to make informed choices and sending a clear message to the criminals who trade in such goods that this activity will not be tolerated.
Once items are detained, Border Force’s specialist international trade teams work with the owners of brands to establish whether goods are genuine. If they are fake, the goods are usually destroyed, and the rights holders must decide whether to privately prosecute the importers.
Those involved in the production of counterfeit goods are highly unlikely to follow health and safety laws – both in manufacturing the counterfeit goods, and also for individuals likely to be being exploited during their production.
Criminals stop at nothing to increase their profit margins, often at the expense of consumers, the environment, legitimate businesses and our economy – and even those working for them, who may often be doing so against their will.
Consumers who believe they have purchased counterfeit goods are advised to contact Action Fraud.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or report smuggling on GOV.UK.