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Online marketplaces see increase of fake products being sold, new study shows

ATLANTA — According to a Michigan State University study, 68% of consumers surveyed say they had been deceived into buying counterfeit products in the past year.

“The criminals profiting from the sale of illegal goods do not care who they hurt or whose holiday they ruin,” said Alysa Erichs from the group United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade.

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Cyber Monday has people scouring online for deals, but online marketplaces and social media sites are seeing a flood of fakes and counterfeit products.

“Black market criminals have exploited the boom in online shopping by misleading consumers into buying stolen and counterfeit goods,” Erichs said.

Brands hire the cybersecurity company Brandshield to hunt online for copycat websites and sites selling fake products.

Brandshield’s CEO Yoav Keren says they have seen a flood of new scam domain names peddling products like Rolex and Apple.

“We found more than 12,000 potential new domain registrations just this year. Now, this is added to tens of thousands of others that were already there,” Keren said.

That Michigan State study also found that 52% of the respondents knowingly bought fakes.

There’s a whole world of “unboxing” videos on social media of influencers showing off fake or so-called “dupe” purchases.

But for those trying to avoid fakes it can be confusing sifting through all the 3rd party vendors on major online platforms like Amazon.

A new federal law called the Inform Consumers Act now requires sites to provide information on third-party sellers.

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“You can see where the item is coming from and who you’re actually buying it from,” Jennifer Hanks from the American Apparel & Footwear Association said.

Hanks says to try to avoid counterfeit products, you should check to see if the online marketplace is an authorized retailer of the brand, look at who is selling the product, and look closely at any domain names on links you are sent to from social media.

“Make sure that you can reach the same page that offers that special offer directly on the company’s websites. Because if not, in many in many of these cases, these are scams,” Keren said.

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