RESIDENTS in Runcorn and Widnes are being warned about the dangers of falling victim to online scams and fake goods ahead of two of the biggest shopping days of the year.

During last year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales were up by 46 per cent as shoppers chased down the best deals for Christmas.

Cheshire crime commissioner David Keane said: "These two shopping days can be a great opportunity to secure a great deal from reputable retailers but we need to be aware that we are not the only ones to recognise the benefits and profits to be made from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

"Those looking for bargains need to be very alert when they shop, as international gangs of counterfeiters and pirates are out looking for your hard-earned cash and will want to give you nothing in return.

"Shopping extravaganzas are irresistible for "fakers" and they know we may be very likely to take a chance.

"They also know that they can use a variety of channels to get to us.

"The internet is of a preferred means as it gives them direct access.

"The anonymity the internet offers is such an advantage to criminals.

"They can operate easily behind sophisticated looking sales sites, using fake trademarks, brands and emblems and even bogus certification labels to entice shoppers into thinking they are buying genuine, safe, products.

"The reality is consumers can often end up with nothing more that cheap tat and increasingly dangerous goods.

"We also need to be aware that 25 per cent of UK consumers have been attacked during these sales periods and when given access to our data, the criminals will then use our money to fund other menacing crimes, such as drug trafficking, money laundering and child exploitation."

The anti-counterfeiting group has put together these useful tips for shoppers to help protect themselves:

  • Check who you are buying from. If you're in the high street, go to a reputable store. If you're online remember that over 83% of fakes come from China. So, if the web site or shipping address looks to be in China or Hong Kong take extra care.
  • Don't be too quick in committing your money. Check the price of the product against other sites. You may even get the same deal from the original manufacturers.
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!

For more tips on how to avoid being caught out this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend go to