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Are “knock offs” beating you down?

With the holiday shopping season around the corner, it’s hard to resist a great bargain, especially on luxury goods and high-priced items. However, when it comes to counterfeit merchandise, consumers can pretty easily be scammed. Don’t fall for it!

How the Scam Works:

Counterfeit goods can mimic original merchandise, right down to the trademarked logo, though made with inferior materials and workmanship. That can be an annoyance or a life-threatening health or safety hazard when the counterfeit item is medicine or an auto part.


“Knock offs” or “copycat” products are sold online, by street merchants, at flea markets, and sometimes in traditional retail stores. Commonly counterfeited items include logo merchandise (team jerseys, designer leather goods), smartphones and other electronics, DVDs and CDs, watches, jewelry, sunglasses, auto parts, perfume; any item can be copied.

How to Spot This Scam:

  • A red flag is an unreasonably low price. Consumers have become addicted to “low, low prices,” but it’s not possible to manufacture high-end merchandise and sell it dirt cheap. It can be challenging for a buyer to detect counterfeit products but, in addition to price, some other warning signs are shoddy workmanship, flimsy or nonexistent packaging, cash-only sales, and a vendor who waives tax.
  • Sketchy sellers. The best way to avoid purchasing counterfeit goods is to know the seller. Buy directly from the source (brand owner, manufacturer, team, etc.), through authorized resellers and dealers, or at reputable retailers. Check out businesses at Avoid clicking on phishing emails with too-good-to-be-true offers on “name brands” and “designer” goods. Use a credit card so you can dispute charges.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.


For More Information

Read up more about clinic trial scams on the Federal Trade Commission website. Learn more about scams related to COVID-19 at

Subscribe to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails. Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.


About BBB: BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.

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