Counterfeiting is the dark side of the shoe industry.
The shady business of fake goods has burgeoned into a global industry worth nearly half a trillion dollars — or 2.5 percent of world trade — according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Not surprisingly, e-commerce accounts for a significant portion of these sales.
Shoes are the most counterfeited item and unlike authentic branded goods, they are often made with dangerous materials such as lead, which can cause bodily harm, especially to children.
“Because counterfeiters do not follow industry guidelines, they manufacture products with cheap, substandard and dangerous components. Exposure to these fake items can cause serious injury,” said Bob Barchiesi, president of the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition.
To make sure those sneakers you’re putting into your shopping cart this season are the real deal, the IAAC recommends following “the three Ps” rule to avoid scams. Shoppers should look at:
Unusually low prices are a huge red flag. If the price seems too good to be true, then the shoes are most likely counterfeit.
Steer clear of items that are shipped without packaging or packaged poorly. If the product does come in a package, check if any identifying logos or watermarks are missing on the packaging.
Be wary of the sites you’re shopping online. Fake websites are designed to look professional by mimicking the look and typography of the real brand. Always check the FAQ or About Us tabs for inconsistencies.