Consumer Reports looks at the true cost of counterfeit goods.

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The true cost of fake goods

Counterfeits don’t just knockoff watches and handbags. They also threaten your safety

Counterfeiters aren’t scrappy entrepreneurs. They’re criminals whose nefarious deeds—selling everything from phony airbags and brake pads to Beats headphones and Botox—bankroll illicit activities. Besides ripping off American companies for hundreds of billions of dollars in intellectual property, fakes are often made with cheap, substandard, and dangerous components.

Where counterfeits come from

Counterfeiting is a global crime. While China has long been the major source of fakes, there are other offenders. On the plus side, China, Vietnam, other exporting countries with a burgeoning economy are doing more to bring fraudsters to justice, experts say, if for no reason other than to improve their image in the international business community. But there’s still a long way to go. The list below is based on the retail value of counterfeit goods seized had they been the genuine article.


Percent of total counterfeits

China 63%
Hong Kong 25
Canada Less than 1
India Less than 1
United Arab Emirates Less than 1
Taiwan Less than 1
Singapore Less than 1
Korea Less than 1
Kenya Less than 1

* Source: US Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection.

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