Close to one in 10 UK consumers (9%) who have bought a counterfeit product online in the past year have been injured as a result of purchasing the item, according to an independent report by online brand protection company, Incopro. Of those consumers who have been hurt by counterfeit goods, 83% have been put off from buying from that brand again.

The ‘Counterfeit products are endemic – and it is damaging brand value’ report, produced by global market research consultancy Sapio Research, also revealed 18-24-year-olds had suffered the most injuries when buying counterfeit goods online (22%) compared to 3% of 45-54-year-olds, with men suffering slightly more incidents than women (11% vs 7%). Of those consumers that had been ripped off from unintentionally buying fake goods online, counterfeit clothes (43%) were the most commonly bought, followed by fake jewellery/accessories (32%), electronics (25%), sports gear (22%), food and drink (14%), and medicine/pharmaceuticals (13%).

The Incopro report follows several high-profile news stories highlighting the danger of counterfeits, with warnings of people ending up “severely injured” from counterfeit make-up and more than £2million worth of falsified, unlicensed and potentially harmful medicine seized by UK authorities. Analysis earlier this year from Incopro’s Talisman brand protection solution also showed the dangers of buying fake safety equipment, with consumers purchasing fake helmets that fell far short of the required safety parameters and many unable to withstand a fraction of the impact of the genuine product.

Simon Baggs, CEO and Co-founder of Incopro, said: “The counterfeit problem is affecting every industry – from fake trainers that cause injury, airbags that fail to explode on impact, and counterfeit alcohol which may include anti-freeze or cleaning fluid.“As this Incopro survey confirms, this is far from being a victimless crime. Counterfeits are often priced the same as the genuine item despite costing a fraction to manufacture. They are much more likely to fall apart and offer a serious risk to the purchaser. “Counterfeits are available to buy from online marketplaces of every size. Often consumers are unaware of the dangers. Brands must tackle the commercial networks at the heart of this problem.”