WILY scammers are duping the public and businesses with counterfeit goods to profit from the panic and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) is reporting a spike in counterfeit crime along with cybercrime and fraud - as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with reports of a 400% increase in the number of pandemic-related counterfeit and fraud reports in March.

Readers of this newspaper should be specially aware of ways these sort of operators will try to dupe you.

There has been a marked increase in phishing emails, scams, and a wide array of counterfeit goods being offered for sale, all related to COVID-19.

Higher demand for protective goods and pharmaceutical products, combined with more people searching online to source products, has resulted in criminals using the pandemic to take advantage of businesses and vulnerable citizens.

Counterfeit goods are a global problem, used to fund criminal activity. The fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic is being exploited by criminals who are seeking to profit from the sale of counterfeit goods.

Internationally, Interpol and Europol have successfully intercepted two counterfeit PPE scams worth millions of Euros; whilst our colleagues from The City of London Police have carried out some excellent proactive work surrounding counterfeit PPE in the UK.

When buying goods online, always use reputable sites. It’s important to check the website address to make sure it is legitimate. Look for substitutions such as 'zeros' used instead of the letter 'o', or additional letters or symbols in the address, which may indicate a fake or cloned website.

If you receive an email offering goods or services, don’t click on any links embedded in the email. Instead, go directly to the website itself and check if the information contained in the email is valid. There are online tools and plug-ins available which you can use to screen websites and help identify potentially counterfeit products. Above all, use common sense and if you are even remotely suspicious, look elsewhere.”

Further advice and guidance is available on the SBRC website and anyone who believes that they have received counterfeit goods are advised to contact the police as soon as possible.


Scottish Business Research Centre.