Parents frantically trying to find that must-have Christmas toy for their child have been warned by authorities of scammers peddling potentially dangerous counterfeit goods.
As the festive season causes a desperate scramble for the trendiest toys, causing many shops to sell out and parents to face spending far more than the selling price by purchasing the presents on eBay and Amazon, counterfeit traders are cashing in.
Tired shoppers trying to find the perfect toy may see what appears to be a bargain or a sale on one of the year’s trendiest gifts — but the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has warned that these “bargains” may not be all as they seem.
The CTSI told The Telegraph :”Christmas can be a stressful time of year, full of pressures to buy the latest must have toys. Stock shortages can send desperate parents into the arms of counterfeit traders with cheap, potentially dangerous fakes.
“Trading standards services are continuously working to tackle the issue but it is vital consumers remain vigilant too.
“Parents should be cautious when buying toys this Christmas and not fall for the first deal they see.
“Make sure to buy from reputable shops, beware of products that are drastically cheaper and look at the packaging for the distributor’s details and a CE mark.
“Remember the 4 P’s when shopping this Christmas – Price, Place, Product and Packaging.”
The authority has warned that unofficial children’s merchandise such as toys and dressing-up clothes could pose numerous hazards with small loose parts, long cords and materials that are toxic or not conforming to fire retardant standards.
One must-have toy is the Fingerling, an electronic animal that sits on the wearer’s finger and moves and blinks.
These toys have been selling out in toy shops, and the price has hiked online as many buy them in order to sell them on to desperate parents.
Counterfeit traders have seized on the opportunity to dupe parents, making fake versions of the toy.
50 of these were seized in one country alone — officers from the Trading Standards authority visited a store in Suffolk and identified that all Fingerlings on sale in the store were counterfeit, with samples being sent off for testing as there are suspicions the products could be dangerous.
Councillor Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Environment and Public Protection, said: “Toys must meet strict safety standards and undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe. Counterfeit toys will have been manufactured with absolutely no regard for their safety.”
The Trading Standards authority reminded parents that genuine Fingerlings will clearly say have the manufacturers details “WowWee” printed on the packaging: WowWee Canada Inc. 3700 Saint Patrick Street, Suite 206, Montreal, QC, H4E 1A2.
Copy and fake versions will often have different names like ‘Baby Monkey’, ‘Happy Monkey’ or ‘Finger Monkey’.