Over two years ago I posted a piece on this blog entitled "A Letter From the Counterfeit Wars" that exposed how counterfeiters are using bogus websites to sell poorly made, counterfeit products, in that case — hair straighteners, to unsuspecting consumers.  Over the years, the electrical industry has seen a similar phenomenon, not on fake "branded" websites devoted to selling only counterfeit items, but primarily English-language websites in China aimed at promoting exports to the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.  These latter sites promote both legitimate product and counterfeit product.  The particular pages devoted to promoting counterfeit product sometimes copy text directly off the genuine manufacturer's own web page and paste that text — word-for-word — directly into its webpage for the counterfeit product. 

Today, the BBC published an article on its website reporting that British consumers of hair straighteners were still being deceived by the bogus websites.

What to do about these practices that frankly know no other name other than fraud?  My own personal recommendation with respect to electrical products that look like genuine branded electrical product for North America (and elsewhere), is that you avoid trying to source them through websites like alibaba.com and made-in-china.com unless you are 100% certain that the source is the genuine manufacturer.  In all likelihood, the source is not the genuine manufacturer.  The same cautious behavior might also apply to auction sites, particularly when the source of the product is outside the United States. 

Congress is also stepping into the fray, albeit only with respect to so-called "rogue" websites, that are primarily devoted to selling counterfeit and pirated merchandise.  Yesterday, Senator Leahy introduced a bi-partisan supported bill to provide authority for the Department of Justice to take down these rogue sites, and to compel those entities who provide transactional support for those entities to cease supporting them.  S. 3804 titled the Combatting Online Infringements and Counterfeiting Act" is a small, but significant step toward addressing this fraud.  And,if enacted, it would be essential for the Justice Department to use this new enforcement tool so that the law will have a deterrent effect.


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