HomeLifestyle & TravelFashionHow to avoid being fooled with fake luxury items

How to avoid being fooled with fake luxury items

We all love a bargain, but how do you know you’re actually buying the real deal?

Police recently seized a container filled with fake Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other counterfeit designer clothing estimated to be worth around R400 million in Durban.

“South Africa has become a hotspot for ‘triple A-grade’ fakes – replicas of luxury items that are quite difficult to distinguish from the original,” says Michael Zahariev, co-founder of luxury reseller and authenticator, Luxity.

The proliferation of these items is largely due to scammers increasingly peddling them online, with websites accounting for 41% of sales, followed by online marketplaces (32%) and social media sites (28%). “Most people who buy from a flea market know they are getting a fake but many of those buying through online channels like Instagram aren’t aware and are being duped,” he explains.

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“This is one of the reasons why we double authenticate every item we buy with both an in-house authenticator and a third party. Unfortunately, shoppers are easily fooled by these fakes as scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated,” he notes.

Below, Zahariev shares a few red flags to look out for to avoid becoming a victim of the country’s counterfeiters:

  • If the price is too good to be true, it probably is: While the prices of triple A-grade’ fakes might not be as high as the genuine item, they’re high enough to make someone believe that they’re still forking out a significant amount for what could be an original. Often, shoppers will be fed a story about why it’s a bit cheaper. Counterfeits generally resell for up to 35% of the original price, although there are exceptions, with some sophisticated counterfeiters charging up to 80%.
  • No website or physical address: As most of these sellers deal directly with customers through WhatsApp or social media, if a product is fake, buyers have little recourse when it comes to querying its authenticity or reporting the fraudsters to the authorities.
  • Waiting lists: A number of counterfeiters will tell customers that there’s a two-or-three-week waiting list. But this is because they’re importing items from China on order and not from Chanel, like buyers are told.
Michael Zahariev

“These are just a few ways that scammers are fooling South Africans out of their hard-earned cash. As always, it remains best to only by directly from the brands themselves or through a trusted reseller. While it may cost a little extra, at least you are guaranteed that you won’t be getting a counterfeit,” concludes Zahariev.

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