Fakes and Online Scams
The advent of the Internet has made it much easier to sell fake products and carry out scams. In fact, today, as much as 7% of world trade is in fake products, and this number keeps growing. The amount of fake goods the government has seized has skyrocketed by 800% in the last 10 years.
While all fake goods hurt people—the companies that make the originals, their workers, and families—fake medical devices or car parts can directly lead to injury or death. It’s not about whether your Rolex watch or Gucci bag are real anymore. It’s about saving lives.
What’s more, beyond the direct injury to those who either produce legitimate goods or buy them, counterfeit goods are often used to fund other criminal enterprises offline, from drug and human trafficking to terrorism. Those who believe buying a counterfeit product is a victimless crime are often simply not informed about the world beyond their online purchase.
Similarly, online scams—we’ve all gotten the emails with desperate pleas for financial assistance—are growing almost as fast as fake products. Online scams not only cost Americans $21 billion dollars a year, they also carry tremendous personal cost—victims are humiliated, reputations are ruined, credit histories are decimated. Even worse, the most likely targets of online scams are often unsophisticated Internet users like teens and senior citizens.
As Digital Citizens, we demand that the Internet be a safe place to interact with our fellow human beings, where those who would hock fake and often dangerous products or take advantage of our generosity and vulnerability are stopped before they can claim victims.