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Counterfeit Goods

Some commonly counterfeited items...and why you should avoid buying them.

Some commonly counterfeited items…and why you should avoid buying them.

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Jessica's report focused on counterfeit handbags being sold in New York City's Chinatown -- and one of the biggest "knockoff" markets out there is for designer handbags. However, in addition to being illegal, you should know that when you buy a fake designer handbag, the people who made that bag are likely earning very little money for their work. They may even be children working in sweatshops.

Another problem associated with counterfeiting: The workers employed in these factories may work in harsh conditions. Their employers are not only stealing someone else's intellectual property, they are not likely to be ethical business people either. The profit they make could be tied to illegal drugs, human trafficking and even terrorism.

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Much has been made of a 2007 incident when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered a fake brand name toothpaste being sold in four U.S. states that might have contained a chemical called DEG, which is used in anti-freeze.

Though the toothpaste was tested and found to only have a dangerous bacteria in it, this incident proves that the cost of saving a few cents on a drugstore product is not worth it...for anyone.

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Much like a knockoff handbag, buying a designer accessory with a brand's logo or label on it, when you know it was not made by that designer, has a real cost to the economy and society. What's one of the biggest problems? Jobs.

Harper's Bazaar, a fashion magazine that is staunchly anti-knockoff, estimates that 750,00 jobs are lost each year because of intellectual property theft.

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Much like fake toothpaste, the effects of counterfeited pharmaceuticals can have an impact that you'll feel in more than your bank account -- they could cause serious harm or even kill if you take them.

Often these counterfeit drugs are just placebos, but if they do contain the medicine they claim to be, it can be in a different amount or concentration. The counterfeit medicine can even be mixed with a completely different drug.

Finally, putting health concerns aside, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that counterfeited pharmaceuticals cost the economy $32 billion annually.

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Everyone knows that iPhones are expensive. Any idea why?

Sure, they're an amazing piece of technology that probably cost Apple a ton of money to develop, but buying a knock-off version of a consumer electronic drives up the price of the real thing. And that's not the biggest problem with fake electronics. Your cell phone, even a cheap knockoff version, probably isn't going to catch on fire.

Last December, however, the market was flooded with cheap holiday lights, which, manufactured without consumer electronic standards and safety features could malfunction and a cause a fire. In your house. On Christmas.

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Here's another one that hits where it hurts -- your wallet. According to the New York Times, "American movie, music and software companies alone estimate that Chinese pirated goods cost them more than $2 billion a year in sales."

Think about that the next time the price of a ticket goes up at your local movie theater.

Plus, those pirated copies of movies that people record using a video camera in the theater are poor quality.

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The most commonly seized items by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2009 were fake branded shoes.

This one brings us back to those children working in sweatshops.

Did you know that factory owners who manufacture legitimate brand goods often run a second shift? They use the same machines and materials to create branded clothes and shoes, but they don't sell them to the brand, they sell them to the black market where they're sold to consumers at lower prices. However, they don't take a loss on the second shift of goods -- they pay the workers less money to make the same product.

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