Fake goods flood Canadian shops
Shoppers eagerly snap up cheap counterfeits as police, business leaders gather to discuss a $500B global problem
Dec. 5, 2006. 08:56 AM
BETSY POWELL AND JOHN DUNCANSON
The expert spotted the imposter immediately.
The tiny studs decorating the popular brand’s pouncing mountain lion weren’t “uniform," nor was the grade of leather up to snuff.
“I can spot a fake a mile away," sniffed Puma store manager J. P. Melo while inspecting the belt purchased for $50 a day earlier at Markham’s Pacific Mall.
It’s an international problem that’s been called the world’s fastest-growing crime wave. Counterfeit products represent at least 7 per cent of global trade, or about $500 billion annually.
This week, business leaders and police are gathering in Markham to discuss the magnitude of counterfeiting in Canada — reflecting the growing recognition that the problem is out of control and affects the economy and health of Canadians, said officials of a new anti-counterfeiting network.
Christmas shoppers flocking to the Steeles Ave. complex can find just about everything on their list, from watches, handbags and jewellery to cellphones, shark fins and furniture.
To some, the provenance may not matter. It fact, the prospect of cheap goods with a pricey brand name may be why they go to the mall in the first place. Police raids have given it a reputation as a haven for knockoff or phoney goods.
“We sell only original brand names. Counterfeit is not available," reads a store sign you don’t normally see in retail outlets.
But the Pacific Mall is not unique. A growing list of bogus items can be found on store shelves across the GTA, in malls, flea markets, discount stores and even big retail chains, as counterfeiters become more skilled.
“Anything that’s making money is either being ripped off or it’s going to be ripped off, " said Sgt. Andris Zarins, of the RCMP’s federal enforcement branch.
“It’s not a question of what is counterfeit, but more what is not being counterfeited," added Joseph Clark, a consultant for the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy.
And it’s often hard to tell.
At the Puma store on Yonge St., Melo said the belt purchased at the Pacific Mall was a copy of a product the sporting apparel company carried a year ago. The brand’s trademark red tag was looped through the buckle when it sat on the shelf but disappeared after the young store clerk wrapped the belt in tissue and put it in a bag — possibly so it could be used again.
So who cares if a belt isn’t the “real" thing, especially if it’s a good deal?
It’s a question law enforcement people hear “over and over again," said Zarins, to which he responds that counterfeiting is “theft — that’s the bottom line."
“Counterfeiters couldn’t care less about any quality control. They don’t care whether the thing really works or not. When you’re talking electrical devices or pharmaceuticals or kids’ clothing that isn’t fire-retardant, they’re just putting everybody at risk."
As examples, he points to Christmas lights, batteries and faulty electrical cords that aren’t up to safety standards and are prone to catching fire. This year, Health Canada issued a warning about fake batteries, saying there have been nearly 90 incidents since 2000 when counterfeit-brand batteries exploded, 41 of them in toys. Eight children were burned. And counterfeit batteries can contain poisonous mercury.
The pharmaceutical market has also been flooded with fake drugs that simply don’t do what the patients hope and expect.
Even the toys on a child’s wish list can be dangerous: “You don’t know if it’s stuffed with stuff swept up off the floor, you don’t know whether the thing is going to catch fire if it’s near a heat source."
Or how about counterfeit children’s clothing — “What if it’s made of inflammable material?" Zarins said.
Fatal car and plane crashes have been tied to use of fake repair parts.
Counterfeiting is big business, and organized crime is increasingly behind it, said Clark, often moving it on traditional drug-smuggling routes.
Canadian border guards are not allowed to seize shipments, Clark said. They must call in the RCMP to do that. For that reason a lot of counterfeit goods get past the border.
And the goods aren’t destroyed. In 2002, for example, $15 million worth of counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Burberry and other luxury goods were seized in Vancouver from China. The Crown didn’t prosecute and the counterfeiters asked for their goods back.
Canada’s record on this is so poor the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, which represents the interests of 150 companies and trade associations, has put Canada on a watch list, painting it as a mecca for counterfeit goods.
While police and governments are now taking the counterfeit issue more seriously, it will take education to help consumers understand the price paid for buying fakes, Clark said.
“It’s out of control right now and unfortunately it’s going to get worse before it gets better."
Auditor finds public sector workers abuse taxpayer-funded credit cards for millions
December 05, 2006 – 1:47 pm
By: 680 News Staff with files from CP
Toronto – A litany of misspent taxpayers dollars and more health cards than there are people in Ontario.
Those are a few of the findings in the Auditor General’s report released today.
Auditor General Jim McCarter found a number of Ontario’s public sector workers, and managers who oversee expense accounts, are unable to account for millions in charges on taxpayer-funded credit cards.
He also fund there are about 300,000 more Ontario Health Insurance cards than there are people in the province. And he says most of the extra health cards are held by people in Toronto, or those living close to the United States border.
Other highlights of the report include:
One senior executive at Hydro One had his secretary charge $50,000 to her card, even though most of the items purchased were for his own use.
Staff at Ontario Power Generation also failed to provide proper documentation to support $6.5 million in expenditures, and managers spent $300,000 on gifts, including 40 leather jackets worth $8,000.
The auditor general also found one teacher spent $52,000 over two years on a purchasing card, including $4,000 spent during school breaks on DVDs, eyeglasses and Christmas lights.
Another teacher charged $11,000 over two years, including $2,800 on candies, chocolates and household supplies.
A long list of spending abuses at several Children’s Aid societies, which prompted an outcry last week after a draft report was leaked to the media, included purchases of SUVs worth $59,000 and expensive foreign trips to an all-inclusive Caribbean resorts. One staffer, with a society-provided vehicle, also received a $600 a month tax-free car allowance.
For the first time, the auditor general had the power to examine hospitals, and found they expose young children and even staff to high levels of radiation from CT and MRI scans. One CT examination of a child’s abdomen is estimated to equal 4,000 x-rays, which is eight times the radiation an adult would be exposed to in the same setting.
By: 安省省府機構腐爛 on 十二月 5, 2006 at 4:05 下午
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