Rat Feces, Human Urine Contained in Fake Beauty Products

Rat Feces, Human Urine Contained in Fake Beauty Products

We all love the convenience of online shopping, especially if you consider the possibility of landing yourself a luxury/designer product at a reduced price. 

However, London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) warns of the existence of counterfeit beauty products made from abhorrent ingredients that are harmful to your health and can even lead to death.

This comes after London City police seized and tested a number of beauty products including make-up, perfume and sun creams from fraudulent online traders.

Reports filed by the London police labs revealed the presence of rodent feces, human urine, and chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide in the seized imitation products.

Reports also indicated that the counterfeit beauty products have increased in popularity due to the online shopping phenomenon that gives criminals opportunities to dupe consumers into buying imitation products for some quick cash.

PIPCU in London has ordered the closure of over 5,000 websites operating in the UK and seized more than £3.5 million (over 376 million Kenya shillings) worth of fake cosmetics.

“Not only could these products have serious implications to your health and wellbeing but by simply going online and buying from a rogue site or dealer, your personal and financial information is at risk”

Says PIPCU boss, Detective Superintendent, Maria Woodall.

“Our general rule is; if it seems too good to be true then it probably is!”

PIPCU launched a campaign dubbed “Wake Up – Don’t Fake Up” to create awareness on the existence of fraudsters who sell counterfeit products online to evade detection.

The sole purpose of beauty products is to help the consumer enhance their beauty. Therefore, imitation products do the opposite because their usage results in allergies, skin irritations and have long-term side effects.

When buying cosmetics online, unsuspecting buyers usually fall victim to fraudsters because they do not have the option of checking the authenticity of the products as they would in when making an in-store purchase.

Accordingly, PIPCU gave these ten points as guides for safe online shopping:

Trust your instincts

My first and ONLY rule of shopping for cosmetics and fragrances (irrespective of whether I am buying online or in a shop) is to check for the price on the actual designers’ websites, and convert that into Kenya shillings. If the numbers don’t add up I ignore. If the deal is too good, close that page and move on

Check the grammar and spelling used in the website and of the URL

I mean, if they cannot write proper English then I highly doubt what they are selling is ‘proper’

Look to see where the trader is based and whether they provide a postal address

Mobile phone numbers and email addresses are not sure proof of legitimacy

Only deal with reputable sellers

This is actually the most important point of all of them. I know reputable dealers may charge a bit more for their products but paying 800 shillings more on something will save you a lifetime of scars

Ensure the website address begins 'https' at the payment stage. This indicates a secure payment

Keep security software and firewalls up-to-date

If you are not sure of how to do this, seek the help of a professional ICT technician

Don't access links in unsolicited emails

Delete! Delete! Delete!

Ask the trader if there is a returns policy or guarantee

Anyone who knows they are selling fake products will avoid this at all costs

If you are not sure whether the items are genuine, do not enter your payment details

I’ll refer you back to point number 1

Watch out for pop-ups appearing asking you to confirm your card details before you are on the payment stage. Never enter your PIN online

The points above do not only apply to those who buy cosmetics online for their personal use; especially if we apply it in the Kenyan context.

As consumers, we have to rely on middle men to import international cosmetic brands because these companies are yet to set up shop in the country.

In 2013, the Kenyan Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) intercepted a container of fake cosmetics at the port of Mombasa worth 10.9M. This is quite alarming for consumers considering the harmful effects that are associated with the use of such cosmetics. 


By Mwangi Githii

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