Hazardous to Your Health: Internets Fake and Toxic Cosmetics

The Federal Bureau of Investigation lately sent a warning out about Fake Cosmetics bought & sought on the Internet. Beside Rogue Medications and Rogue AV-Programs, the market of toxic and fake cosmetics & perfumes, is up to this day unaware to most (naive) consumers.

First you see what appears to be your favorite brand name eye shadow, eye liner, or fragrance for sale at a flea market or on an to you unfamiliar website. Then, you notice the price is reasonable and cheaper than what you normally pay at your casual retail store or through an trusted online dealer, like i.e. Amazon.

Before you hand over your hard-earned money, though, keep the following in mind:

It could be counterfeit, and - in addition to buying something that’s not the real deal - you are also risking your health, your life, by buying and using products that may contain substandard or even dangerous ingredients. Besides that, you are, by purchasing those counterfeits, supporting Criminals who dont care about YOU, nor your wellbeing !

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Center - of which the FBI is a partner - wants you to know that the volume of all sorts of counterfeit cosmetics and fragrances coming into the United States, is definitely on the rise. This is according to the industry partners as well as law enforcement.

The biggest Question remains: Why is this happening ?

Some reason is that the World Wide Web has given counterfeiters a boundless path to customers. Another answer may be, because criminals increasingly view dealing in counterfeit personal care products - as well as other knock-off consumer goods as well, like Viagra, Valium etc. for instance - as a relatively low-risk crime (since many of the perpetrators are located outside of the U.S.), and for them, a high lucrative earning, no matter how risky those goods can harm you, your family and friends.

Government and industry studies and testing have discovered that some of the ingredients that make up counterfeit cosmetics and fragrances are definitely dangerous:

  • Counterfeit fragrances have been found to contain something called DEHP, classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen. These phony perfumes and colognes, which sometimes contain urine as well, have been known to cause serious skin rashes.
There is no typical profile being observed, of the individuals or groups trafficking in these kinds of counterfeit products. It could be your own neighbor. Additionally this might just be one of their many illegal activities - often times, the illicit earnings are used or shared to fund other types of criminal activities. If you would get a victim of a terror act, you may have not the chance anymore asking yourself, if that money that financed the attack, wasn`t the one you spent for last weeks cheap online cosmetic...

Law enforcement has also observed people selling counterfeit products through online auction sites (like Ebay etc.) and other websites, just to make a little extra cash, where some may not even realized their merchandise is fake.

Fake or Real ?
Because of the dangers to the public, law enforcement is mobilizing against counterfeit cosmetics and fragrances and other goods more and more. For example, the nearly two dozen U.S. and foreign agencies that make up the National IPR Center are working on the matter, sharing intelligence with one another, coordinating with state and local law enforcement, and developing international relationships with industry representatives around the world.

Some Indicating Facts of Counterfeits

- The packaging differs slightly from the authentic brand (might be a different color or different lettering on the product), and/or the product’s wrapping appears haphazard.

- The product is being advertised as a “limited edition” even though the authentic manufacturer doesn’t offer it as a limited edition.

- The price is either slightly or drastically lower.

- For cosmetics, the product’s consistency or texture just doesn’t feel or look like the authentic brand.

- For fragrances, there’s something a little off about the scent, and the color of the fluid in the bottle might be different than the original.

- For both products, they’re being sold at non-authorized retailers, including flea markets, mall kiosks, and over the Internet.

But most important in protecting citizens health: Law enforcement needs the public’s help !

For that, you first have to educate yourself about some of the common indicators of counterfeit cosmetics and fragrances so that you don’t become a victim (see box above). If you’re not sure about the authenticity of a product, just don’t buy it !

Adulterated cosmetics from a fake Cosmetics Factory in Chakbazar, India (2010)

Secondly, if you think you or someone you know may have purchased counterfeit cosmetics or fragrances, or if you suspect someone of selling counterfeit items, submit a tip to the National IPR Center or to your nearest Law enforcement agency. Remember: The more information law enforcement has, the more effective they can be. With the proliferation of counterfeit goods increasing at an alarming rate, the National IPR Center focuses on keeping these bogus and very often unsafe and toxic products out off U.S. hands (& bodys), meanwhile dismantling the criminal organizations behind these illegal activities. Keep Safe and be Cautious !

Additional Information on this subject can be found at the following Links:

- More on the National IPR Center
- It’s an age-old crime: Stealing
- How to spot counterfeit cosmetics

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