New reports stress the dangers of buying fake products online during Covid-19, says a global trade body, which is driving demand for more investment in security devices.
According to the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), published news reports strengthen concerns about e-commerce-based businesses being targets for exploitation during the pandemic by unscrupulous counterfeiters looking to cash in on the trade in illicit goods.
Haircare brands, cosmetics and skincare tools among other consumer goods have been hit especially hard, with one brand protection agency reporting a 56% increase in counterfeit products sold online across 700 brand clients in the first six months of this year.
Skincare device company Foreo and haircare brand Tyme, have seen counterfeit sales increased by approximately 37%, according to published reports.
Counterfeit products continue to flood the market, an issue that has been exacerbated by the growth of e-commerce channels.
The counterfeit market currently forms nearly 5% to 7% of global trade and, despite efforts from businesses, continues to seriously harm brands while customers are duped in the process.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a growing volume of fake medicines are on sale in developing countries, while Interpol has seen an increase in fake medical products.
Seizures of fake COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) have been reported by both the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the World Customs Organisation.
In the USA, research earlier this year revealed that almost 70% of consumers have expressed worries about the health crisis driving online sales in counterfeit or sub-standard quality products.
The IHMA says counterfeiting is a multibillion-dollar global problem, but the crisis has added to the situation.
Specifically, counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic to market and distribute fake essentials – spurred on by increased demand and a perceived shortage of basic goods.
Fake goods which are sold online or have a vague provenance can threaten people’s lives as well as damage corporate reputations and investment in companies and their products, research indicates.
The IHMA is again urging brand owners and product manufacturers to be vigilant and review how they tackle the threats, even bringing forward plans for investment in authentication and verification technologies to protect brands, profits and reputation.
Indeed, a recent IHMA poll revealed that that almost 50% of manufacturers and suppliers of holograms had seen an increase in demand from customers, specifiers and end-users for devices and technologies during the height of the pandemic.
Dr Paul Dunn, chair of the IHMA, says COVID-19 has “opened the door wide for crafty criminals, who are infiltrating global supply channels, deploying scams and counterfeiting measures to trick consumers and damage manufacturers.
“Furthermore, items such as falsified medicines and drugs bought online pose a terrible threat and can endanger lives.
“Holograms can be effective in the frontline fight against counterfeiters and fraudsters, protecting brands and profits.
Those involved in the supply chain are reassured by their presence on products, recognising the security and financial benefits provided,” he added.
The use of well-designed and properly deployed authentication solutions, as advocated by the ISO12931 standard, enables examiners to verify the authenticity of a legitimate product, differentiating it from fake products coming from counterfeiting hot spots in Asia and eastern Europe.
The IHMA says those that carry a “fake” authentication feature can be distinguished from the genuine item if that item carries a carefully thought-out authentication solution.