Counterfeit and illegally imported goods

Counterfeit and fake products can be found in many forms, such as clothing, DVDs, perfume, hair straighteners, jewellery, computer software and games. However, vodka, car and airplane parts, tyres, tools, electrical goods, batteries, shampoo, razor blades, cigarettes and children's toys are also copied.

Cigarettes, alcohol and tobacco, that are not for the UK market are also illegally imported. Signs include the lack of the 'UK Duty Paid' mark, no health warnings and pictures on tobacco or the fact that they are stored away from the normal sales kiosk.

These products may seem like a bargain but in many cases you would be risking wasting your cash on poor quality copies which can also be dangerous. It is not always luxury goods that are counterfeited and the price may only be slightly cheaper than normal.

Buying pirated and fake goods also supports serious crime such as drug dealing, human trafficking and prostitution. It can also provide an additional, undeclared income to benefit cheats and puts genuine local traders out of business.

Be alert to any offers too good to be true and if you spot or believe a trader in Coventry is supplying any fake goods, please report it using our online reporting form [/tsreportit] or use the Anonymous Hotline: 0300 303 2636.

Trading Standards are authorised to investigate and prosecute offenders under both the Trade Marks Act and the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and in Coventry we regularly seize items from local shops, markets, via the internet and occasionally other outlets. This is often followed by formal action.

When undertaking Trading Standards Enforcement Visits/Warrants in this area Officers will sometimes use Body Worn Cameras. The purpose of which is to enable us to capture evidence.

When undertaking such work – we comply with the Corporate Privacy Statement [].

We try to identify manufacturers or importers where possible, but most people who are caught selling counterfeit goods cannot, or will not, tell us where they get the items from. They face prosecution for their part in the fraud and their lack of co-operation.

Counterfeit alcohol

Retailers are warned to be on the lookout for illegal, counterfeit or non-duty paid alcohol that has been supplied cheaply from the back of a van. Retailers need to check their suppliers and make sure that they get proper receipts. Illegal stock can be seized and it may affect a licence to sell alcohol.


The owners of trademarks and holders of copyright and design rights can take legal action against people who copy their products without their authority. Trading Standards Officers can take criminal enforcement action. The Proceeds of Crime Act gives Investigators powers to examine criminal assets and apply to the courts for confiscation and compensation where there are breaches of Trade Marks law. Enforcement officers can also apply for a licence review where illegal alcohol is being sold.

How to spot websites selling counterfeit goods

There are usually several simple ways to help you spot a site selling fakes:

  1. Look for grammar and spelling errors on the websites. Be suspicious of deeply discounted prices.
  2. Find where the domain is registered. Check where the lender is really located [] - if their address has been left out/withheld be suspicious. Many websites selling fake items have their domains registered in China.
  3. Look at the "contact us" section, if there's no physical address or working phone number, beware.
  4. Make sure if you are giving financial information it is over a secure site. Look for "https" (rather than "http") when submitting payment information. Also look for a highlighted lock symbol in your web browser.
  5. Consider using a separate credit card with a lower spending limit for online purchases. If your credit card information is taken, it may be easier to cancel.
  6. Use a gift card to make online purchases. Credit card companies like VISA offer credit cards for lower cash amounts.
  7. Be extremely wary if asked to send any payment abroad by any money transfer system such as Ukash, Western Union or any other.
  8. Research the website you are considering using - look at online forums for any information. Fraudsters can push a fake web site high up on web search lists. Check the URL as fraudsters change the address very slightly to include the brand or product name. Also, a website address ending in does not necessarily mean the site is based in the UK.

If you have spotted or believe a trader in Coventry is supplying fake goods or selling foreign labelled or duty free goods such as cigarettes, please use our online reporting form [/tsreportit] or use the Anonymous Hotline: 0300 303 2636.