Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Warning over online black market

Online shopping tag
The risk of buying counterfeits can increase online

Internet shoppers in the UK will spend a total of £132m on black market goods this Christmas, a survey suggests.

The most common stolen goods for sale were portable music devices, mobile phones and electronics.

But insurer LV warned that counterfeit or stolen goods would not be covered by insurance.

People with a high income were the most likely to buy fake products, a separate study by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) found.

Shop around

The LV report suggested that one in four shoppers failed to make checks into a seller's background when buying online, with many happy to turn a blind eye if the price was right.

This practice is not a victimless crime
Jeffrey Hardy, ICC

China, Romania and Nigeria were the hotspots for counterfeit or stolen goods, the report suggested.

"It is not surprising that shoppers are hunting for the best deals online," said John O'Roarke, managing director of LV home insurance.

"What this research shows is that there is a huge market for stolen or counterfeit items on the internet and buyers should be wary of deals that look too good to be true.

"Anyone purchasing these goods is also encouraging further crime such as burglary and theft."

Although the ICC poll has a relatively small sample size, it suggested that fake DVDs, CDs, clothing and computer software were big counterfeit sellers.

It suggested that higher-income shoppers were more likely to buy fakes than lower-income consumers.

UK consumers said the main reasons people bought counterfeit goods were because they could not afford the original or because they did not know the products were fake.

"This practice is not a victimless crime, it costs people their jobs when unemployment is already high, exposes them to health and safety risks and severely damages the economy," said Jeffrey Hardy, who heads the ICC's anti-piracy group.

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