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Watch out for scammers this Christmas, says TSI

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Scammers are keen to take their share of the £22bn Christmas spending pot and consumers in search of a good deal need to take care, says the Trading Standard Institute (TSI).

TSI estimates the scale of organised intellectual property crime and counterfeiting in the UK at £90million every year. Dodgy imports aimed at Christmas shoppers have already started coming in with a huge single haul of more than 170,000 fake and substandard toys and Christmas lights intercepted by customs at Dover in November. In 2013/14 UK Customs detained a total of 21,000 consignments of fake goods at UK borders.

The group cautions that counterfeit make-up can contain lead, copper, mercury, arsenic or cadmium and can cause swelling, rashes and poisoning. Fake alcohol can contain methanol, antifreeze and fuel, causing nausea, stomach pains, kidney or liver problems, coma or death, while unofficial children’s merchandise such as toys and dressing-up clothes could pose numerous hazards with small loose parts, long cords and materials that are toxic or do not conform to fire retardant standards.

TSI chief executive Leon Livermore said: “You may not have imagined trading standards officers to be a key element of your happy Christmas, but without their essential work in the background, our festive meals and presents could easily turn into disappointment – or disaster.

Phil Buckle, Director General at Electrical Safety First, said: “This Christmas, when buying your presents, don’t give the kiss of death – avoid fakes and celebrate safely. We understand that cheaper products can always be tempting but if it turns out to be counterfeit or substandard, then it could be putting you or a loved one at risk. With half of all house fires caused by faulty electrical goods, buying a knock-off product can be a cost too high to pay.”

Cherry Reynard is the acting editor of

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