Press Release

Consumers Vulnerable To Holiday Gift Return Scam

Counterfeit product switch dupes retailers and consumers

December 26, 2016, Los Angeles, CA – Gift returns and exchanges are part of the holiday season, but a product switch scam defrauds both retailers and consumers. The scam is simple; purchase an authentic item, and purchase a counterfeit at a fraction of the authentic items cost. Switch the products, and return the counterfeit to the retailer or e-commerce website for a refund – after all, you have a receipt. The surge of holiday gift returns distract retailers and the deceptive counterfeit will likely be resold to an unsuspecting consumer.

Approximately one third of web purchases, almost $20 billion, are returned or exchanged after the holidays leaving millions of consumers at risk. Many returns are sold by the truckload to third-party liquidators for disposal. The liquidators simply don’t have the experience or time to determine the authenticity of returned items and sell them to unsuspecting consumers.   

Not only do cheap fakes damage the manufacturer’s reputation and destroy consumer confidence, some counterfeits are dangerous or deadly. For example, lab tests of counterfeit fragrances revealed ingredients such as urine, bacteria, beryllium, lead and antifreeze. Counterfeit Apple iPhone® chargers have caused injuries, fires and one death. Counterfeit computer memory cards destroy data and erase files.

The Counterfeit Report®, a counterfeit awareness and consumer advocate website, makes regular test purchases and queries retailers on their ability to spot counterfeit items. Consumers can view the actual products and their counterfeit counterparts at

Can you identify which is the authentic and counterfeit product below?

counterfeit products image

Authentic Products are on the Left -- Clockwise from left; Chanel No. 5 EDP fragrance, SanDisk 64GB microSD memory card,  Bear Grylls Scout folding knife, Apple A1265 iPhone Charger. (Photo:

Consumer Recourse

Trafficking in counterfeits is a crime with criminal and civil penalties. The Counterfeit Report offers this advice to consumers;

  • Avoid all online purchases from China, and unauthorized sellers of trademarked items on eBay, Amazon Fulfillment and Amazon Marketplace. Many manufacturers don't authorize sales on these websites.
  • Buy online directly from the manufacturer, or authorized retailers with clear return policies.
  • Always buy with a credit card, never cash, PayPal withdrawals or wire transfers.
  • When in doubt about a product, seek advice and compare it with an authentic product at an authorized retailer.

For e-commerce website purchases;

  • Always retain the disputed product; it is your only proof of receiving a counterfeit. If returned, sellers will simply deny it is counterfeit and sell it to another unsuspecting consumer.
  • Dispute the purchase and request a refund from the seller or website.
  • If a refund is denied; notify your credit card company that you have retained the counterfeit product and are disputing the charge.

contact us

The Counterfeit Report®
PO Box 3193
Camarillo, CA 93010

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