’tis the season

Whilst some people may still be in denial that Christmas is just over 4 weeks away, many consumers are looking to get their ducks in a row ahead of the festival period – and the shopping season is well and truly underway. It is also, sadly, prime season for counterfeiting.

Many will be looking forward to ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ which are set to take place this year on 23 and 26 November respectively. 

– One in six UK adults intend to buy something this Black Friday, and a further 27% may buy something if they find a good deal

– However, half of shoppers not interested, and 11% intentionally avoiding stores

– Average shopper intends to spend £234 over Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, similar to last year

– Young people keenest to shop, and men will spend 30% more than women

– Electricals, technology, fashion, toys and beauty will be the biggest shopping categories

– Only a quarter of sales expected to take place within physical stores, with most shopping expected to be done online or on mobiles

The events which straddle this weekend each year are notorious for allowing consumers to make large savings on gifts in the lead up to Christmas.

Some of these savings can be dramatic, however there a fine line between a a great deal and a nightmare purchase of a counterfeit product.

Notably, with online shopping it can also be harder to discern a fake from the real deal – as you don’t get a chance to get your hands on an item before purchase.

Every year, popular counterfeit products are usually branded and closely copy luxury goods, including (but not limited to): perfume, handbags, footwear and other clothing.

Counterfeiters are therefore ready to prey on excited consumers during this period in order to make a quick buck. Here at Virtuoso Legal, we take counterfeiting seriously.

Here are 5 points which you should consider before, during and after your Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases;

1. If it really seems too good to be true, it probably is

Luxury and designer goods are usually the subject of many Black Friday deals, however consumers should be sceptical about deals where these goods have upwards of 20-30% off.

For example, if the handbag which you have lusted over for months now has a jaw-dropping discount (e.g. running into hundreds of pounds) then there is a high risk that the bag may be a counterfeit, often known as ‘replicas’.

Take your time to assess the offer, and don’t let your excitement at such a good deal override your sense of logic! Statistically, the chances are that some of these unbelievable deals are exactly that for a reason.

2. Check the storefront

Many high street and luxury stores will be enticing consumers to spend their cash with them by offering discounts or other initiatives over the course of the week.

If, when you’re on the hunt for a bargain, you find yourself on a website which you have not heard of, then you should shop with caution to avoid entering into dangerous situations with your hard-earned cash.

Whilst you might receive a lesser discount from an official storefront, you are guaranteed to be receiving the “real deal“.

So make sure you take the time to compare the same product across multiple storefronts, and balance cost versus trustworthiness.

Spending just a little bit more can make the difference between official goods and a convincing counterfeiting.

3. Security is king!

When looking into trustworthiness, make sure any website which you are making a purchase on is secure enough to input any bank details for payment.

Look in the address bar to make sure that the domain is what the page says it is – many “black hat” web developers will be able to identically copy a storefront to sell to you, but they won’t be as easily able to ape the domain address. Look for closely misspelled domain names, and the top level domain name (e.g. the .com part) to make sure it’s what you expect it to be.

Another key to look out for here is whether a website has HTTPS. The easiest way to recognise this is the ‘padlock’ icon in the top left hand corner of the screen, next to the address bar. Scammy website will often not go to the effort of protecting the domain with an SSL certificate (after all their objective isn’t to look out for the customer!)

Shopping on websites without this level of protection can leave your payment details open to scammers.

Also, make sure that any payment you make is via Paypal or a credit card for maximum security and payment protection.

4. Research, research, research!

Sites such as Amazon and eBay are the ones most targeted by counterfeiters.

Taking a look at seller’s other listings, reviews and comments can give you a great insight into the seller whom you are about to do business with.

Satisfy yourself that the seller seems reputable, particularly if they are a business, by reviewing their feedback left by other customers.

If the seller appears to have large quantities of goods which they are selling, then there should be a doubt in your mind as to whether the goods are genuine. Noting the origin of where the goods are being sent from is also a good indication of their authenticity.

Taking your time to have a peek behind the scenes of a product listing can give you a quick view of the organisation or person that you’re receiving your prized goods from – and whether there are any concerns.

5. Inspect the goods and packaging as soon as they arrive.

Whilst counterfeit goods are often difficult to spot, there may be clues in the packaging, stitching or quality of the material used on goods which are purported to be ‘luxury’.

Checking for authenticity codes or stamps, such as holographs found in Chanel bags and noting the attention to detail in a piece can often be the way to spot a counterfeit product.

Be sure to review the product in full before removing any of this packaging, as doing so may stop you from being able to claim a refund.

Crucially, if you have followed the previous steps and made sure that you’ve purchased from a trusted storefront – you should be to send the item back, report the counterfeiting seller and then buy the authentic product.


The excitement of the holiday season and an unbelievable bargain can often lead to some impulse choices around this time of year. But it’s important to take a step back and make sure that the choices you make are the right ones.

Should you fall foul of counterfeiting; at the very least you run the risk of missing out on a great deal for an authentic version of your desired object – and on the other hand you may receive faulty or even dangerous goods.

So it’s important to keep a cool head and take your time to make the right decisions!

Whilst this list is not conclusive of steps to beat counterfeiters, mindful shopping will help keep you and your cash safe ahead of any spending sprees!

Happy shopping!