Buying fake Christmas presents can 'fund terrorism' according to British authorities

Shoppers have been warned to avoid counterfeit goods during the final shopping days before Christmas

Buying fake Christmas presents can 'fund terrorism' according to British authorities

Photocall file photo

Christmas shoppers buying toys for their children may unwittingly be supporting organised crime or even terrorist groups, according to UK border authorities.

Officers from Britain's Border Force have seized a range of fake items worth £56m (€77m) from ports and airports over the past year.

They include toy figures modelled on characters from Disney movie Frozen, Armani watches and designer handbags.

In the financial year 2014-15, officers confiscated more than 1.6 million items infringing intellectual property where patents or copyright applies.

Recent detections in the UK include:

  • £3.5m-worth of items including £350,000 of Bulgari jewellery and £382,600 of Louis Vuitton designer handbags, as well as £152,000 of Michael Kors cosmetics at East Midlands Airport.
  • 16,400 Apple branded data cables worth £410,000 and £75,000 worth of Givenchy and Celine designer handbags at Manchester Airport.
  • 7,827 pairs of Heelys children’s trainers worth £391,350 at Felixstowe port.
  • 1,500 Pokemon toys at Glasgow Airport.
  • 4,536 pairs of Hello Kitty slippers worth £54,432, along with Moschino and Michael Kors designer handbags worth over £280,000 at Dover port.
  • 1,198 pieces of branded clothing from Tommy Hilfiger, Fred Perry and Ralph Lauren at Heathrow Airport.
  • 11,664 bottles of perfume including Paco Rabanne and Issey Miyake and 4,885 Samsung and Apple phone cases at Southampton port.
  • 30 Burberry-branded scarves worth over £10,000 at Edinburgh Airport.

Border Force North deputy director Emma Porter said: "Counterfeiters will look to capitalise and cash in where there is a demand for a product and this year our officers have seized all sorts of fake goods - from beauty products to food and electrical goods.

"We urge consumers to be careful with their purchases.  If the price appears too good to be true - either at a car boot sale, a market stall or online - it probably is."

Ms Porter added: "Organised criminals will be making these products for pennies, potentially selling them for hundreds of pounds and obviously that provides them with money to then look at things like drugs, tobacco - but could also be used to fund terrorism.

The UK's Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: "The international trade in counterfeits is linked to serious and organised crime and undercuts honest traders, damaging our economy.

"Customers are also left out of pocket with inferior and potentially dangerous goods.

"We are determined to crack down on this criminality and have Border Force officers working 24 hours a day at ports, airports and mail sorting centres to identify and seize counterfeits."


Additional reporting by IRN