B.C. consumers warned to watch out for counterfeit dresses, apparel online

Shoppers who get scammed encouraged to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

From wedding dresses to summer apparel, consumers planning to add new items to their wardrobes are being warned to watch out for knock-off brand name merchandise that is increasingly tricking online shoppers.

A consumer group and a counterfeit goods investigator both say it’s not only unaware consumers and brands that lose out when knock-offs are sold, but the profits often support other illegal activities.

Jigme Love, co-owner of the Vancouver-based luxury consignment retailer Mine & Yours, said she’s seen the counterfeiting of brand name apparel transition from predominantly bags and accessories to dresses and other clothing.

The company has destroyed a number of clothing items over the years that, upon closer inspection, turned out to be fakes, costing the store, she said.

“We’re really strict but it’s not a perfect science,” she said.

The store has become more cautious when buying clothes and increasingly relies on a third-party authenticator to verify garments, a process they previously used only for bags, Love said.

There’s also been a shift from counterfeiting common high-end names like Michael Kors to more coveted haute couture lines like Chanel, she said.

With wedding and prom season fast-approaching, Evan Kelly with the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. is reminding consumers to do their homework before investing in a deal that seems too good to be true.

“When it comes to brand name clothing, nothing is off limits,” he said. “We’ve seen fake Vera Wang dresses, fake just about anything.”

Lorne Lipkus, a Toronto lawyer and member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network, said everyone loses when knock-off brands are sold.

An estimated $20 billion to $30 billion in counterfeit consumer goods are sold in Canada every year, he said.

“The counterfeiters don’t pay taxes, so we are supporting an endeavour that is not contributing to this wonderful society that we have,” he said.

While he’s seen production of counterfeit goods shut down by police over the years, he said 80 per cent of the global trade comes from China, and it’s largely controlled by organized crime or terrorism groups.

Kelly said consumers should know the websites and companies they’re dealing with, check reviews, and always pay by credit card or PayPal which offer added security.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores continue to be the safer bet for shopping, he said.

Increasingly, Lipkus said fake goods sold online aren’t just appearing on unique or resale websites but are sold through social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram.

Three years ago, Lipkus said his law firm Kestenberg Siegal Lipkus LLP only employed one part-time person to search out online sellers. Today, they have three full-time investigators dedicated to the issue.

Love said shoppers looking for a designer second-hand wedding dress should ask for a copy of the receipt and then call the retailer to confirm the original purchase.

“I’ve even seen fake receipts,” she said.

Close inspection of the stitching of a garment, the fabric and the label can provide clues as to whether a product is the real deal, she added.

Lipkus also encouraged shoppers who get scammed to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, which can investigate and provide support to someone trying to get their money refunded by a credit card provider.

Linda Givetash, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Langley East MLA could testify in logging lawsuit

Rich Coleman has been put on the witness list for a lawsuit against TimberWest.

WATCH: Kwantlen artist paints and installs Indigenous mural in Fort Langley

First Nations painter Brandon Gabriel created a piece of art for Cranberries Naturally.

Surrey woman plans to travel after winning $500,000

Frances Jarvos bought her winning ticket at Willowbrook Mall in Langley

New Langley resident takes to the stage in upcoming musical

Leah Newson is performing in Annie: The Musical in Burnaby starting Feb. 1.

Day 3 brings fourth win for the Langley-based Team BC

Tyler Tardi and squad plays two games Tuesday at the junior curling nationals in Saskatchewan.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Aldergrove soccer tournament set for March 30-31

2019 edition of the Barry Bauder Memorial Soccer Tournament taking registrations

Most Read