OCT 31, 2017
Amazon, Target and other reliable retailers are facing a common problem: counterfeit beauty products are finding their way into stores and onto shelves. Allure recently followed police officers part of the New Jersey State Police Interstate Theft North unit investigating the issue alongside a company called Allegiance Protection Group, who work closely with Estée Lauder Companies. They created an anti-counterfeiting unit in 2008 when they saw an increase in fake makeup, particularly M.A.C. products, which are frequently targeted by counterfeiters. In 2016, they conducted more than 1,350 seizures and confiscated more than 2.6 million pieces of counterfeit products.
‘Global seizures of counterfeit beauty products rose 25 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development,’ the article explains. ‘Global online wholesale markets – like Alibaba, DHgate and TradeKey – produce hundreds if not thousands of search results for popular makeup products, advertised at incredibly low bulk prices… The problem has become so prevalent that in 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security’s National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center launched something called Operation Plastic Beauty, a division created specifically to stop the spread of fake health and beauty products.’
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But what’s so bad about fake makeup – other than the fact it’s not the real deal?
‘These products are not making their way from overseas to New Jersey without somebody with a little more sophistication in the mix,’ explained Detective Sergeant First Class, Robert Tobey. ‘You don’t really know where the money’s going. It could be funding terrorism, trafficking, child labor. People don’t realize.’
These fake products are also manufactured in warehouses where there are no regulations, increasing the risk of potentially toxic chemicals and unsafe temperatures. ‘It may look like lipstick,’ explains Gregg Marazzo, deputy general counsel at Estée Lauder Companies, ‘but it has some stuff you would never want to put on your face – heavy metals, paint thinners.’ There have even been reports of traces of arsenic, mercury, lead, and rat feces, as well as customers being hospitalized from using counterfeit goods.
Rest assured, anti-counterfeit efforts are ramping up. But the counterfeiters keep getting smarter, and the problem may never go away. Just remember: if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Have you been had by counterfeit beauty? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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