While many people know about (and subsequently ignore) how the production of fake goods supports sweatshop labor and child labor, less known is the fact that it also supports organized crime.
If you doubt the severity, or even very existence of the problem, consider that the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute states that counterfeiting is now one of the highest income sources for organized criminal activities.
To learn more about the connection between counterfeit goods and organized crime, read on.
Counterfeiting Helps Criminal Orgs to Continue their Illicit Activities
Counterfeit goods are one of the primary ways criminal organizations not only make money, but effectively move it around. According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, counterfeiting may be used by organized crime groups in a number of ways, including, but not limited to:
- Money laundering
- As a source of income to fund other criminal activities, such as drug trafficking
- Tax and customs evasion
Needless to say, the involvement of criminal organizations in the counterfeit industry shouldn’t be taken lightly. The criminal activities above are considered to be amongst the most insidious of crimes — with the effects lasting long after the act, and resulting in significant financial and social costs for both the countries involved and the individuals who get caught in the crossfire.
Counterfeiting Even Funds Terrorism
“Fakes fund terror.” That is the premise of counterfeit investigator Alastair Gray’s TED Talk, “How Fake Handbags Fund Terrorism and Organized Crime”. In his talk, Gray explains just how insidious a problem counterfeit goods are. Specifically, he highlights how counterfeit goods have “helped fund training camps, put weapons in ammunition, or the ingredients for explosives.”
Gray gives successive examples of well-known acts of terrorism, including the Charlie Hebdo shooting and the 2004 Madrid train bombings that were funded by counterfeit goods. If you’d like to learn more, it’s worth watching the above video to discover for yourself just how pervasive the problem is.
The Problem is So Serious, Interpol is Involved
The problem is so substantial, in fact, that the International Criminal Police Organization, otherwise known as Interpol, has made it a priority to fight this issue head on. Interpol had this to say about the connection between counterfeit goods and organized crime:
“A clear link has been established between the trafficking of illicit goods and transnational organized crime. Criminal organizations are attracted by the lucrative profits involved in trading counterfeit or fake goods, or in trading legitimate goods through illicit channels. The criminals involved manufacture and trade illicit goods on a regional and increasingly global scale.
Organized crime networks exploit new technology, differences among national regulatory regimes and links between the global economic, finance and transportation systems for their own gain. They use the profits to fund other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, people smuggling and robbery.”
Counterfeiting clearly isn’t a matter of just a handful of criminal groups using counterfeit goods as a vehicle for crime. It is a widespread, transnational problem that is growing at an exponential rate.
We hope this quick run through has shown that the connection between organized crime and counterfeit goods is a very real one. Hopefully, next time you’re considering buying a fake, you’ll think back to this article and remember what you’ve learned. We hope it’ll give you pause for thought, and ultimately encourage you to click the “X” on the tab of a website selling fake goods.
simplyBrand is an advanced ecosystem that draws on artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and crowdsourcing to eliminate counterfeit products in digital commerce. To learn more, visit the simplyBrand website.
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