13 February 2019

PIPCU warns of dangerous chemicals in counterfeit Valentine’s gifts

The  Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London police has warned shoppers of the dangers of counterfeit goods ahead of Valentine’s Day.

In a press release issued on Friday, February 8, PIPCU announced that it had undertaken a raid in which it seized 500 counterfeit products, including perfumes. The goods were worth an estimated £40,000 (US$ 51,500).

“Valentine’s Day is a counterfeiter’s dream. With jewellery and perfume being popular gift choices, it’s easy to fall into the trap of a cheap offer”, said Teresa Russell, detective chief inspector at PIPCU.

Counterfeit perfumes often contain dangerous chemicals such as cyanide, the release said. Fake cosmetics can also include harmful substances including arsenic, mercury, and lead, PIPCU warned.

The unit advised the public to be discerning when shopping for presents online, and to watch out for warning signs including poor spelling, grammar, and inconsistent fonts in sales promotions.

Police also advised consumers to check the  Whois registry maintained by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which displays the registration details of website owners.

PIPCU said it would continue to work closely with brand owners, manufacturers and government to identify and take down counterfeit websites.

“Counterfeit fashion goods, makeup and electrical items are not only the result of criminal activity, but many can harm as well”, said Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the  UK Intellectual Property Office.

This story was first published on TBO.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

25 October 2018   The UK's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has warned trick or treaters against buying fake fancy dress costumes online in the lead up to Halloween, on October 31.
10 February 2022   Roses may be red but when it comes to IP, a host of flower breeders are feeling blue in the run-up to Valentine’s Day and have penned an open letter calling for greater recognition of their rights.