Counterfeit brands fraud

Counterfeit luxury brand merchandise are omnipresent in many popular tourist destinations, and in most countries these perfumes, handbags and other products are easily recognizable as fake, because they are sold by obtrusive street vendors.

Istanbul-counterfeit-brands-scamThe same goes for Istanbul, especially around the tourist hotspots and in Istiklal Avenue, where street vendors are trying to sell perfumes, clothing, cigarettes and other counterfeit merchandise from famous luxury brands to tourists looking for a good deal. But in Istanbul, not only the street vendors sell fake luxury brand products, as almost every branded product in the Kapali Carsi, the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is an imitation. Shop after shop is full of luxury “brands”: Armani and Diesel jeans, Nike and Adidas sneakers, Converse Allstars, Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags, Rolex watches, perfumes from all the popular brands etc.

Most tourists are aware of the fact that the items are imitation, and think there’s nothing wrong with it. When you pay just ten Euro’s for a bottle of Chanel perfume, five Euro’s for a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses or 5 Euro’s for a Lacoste polo shirt, there’s no way this is from the original manufacturer. Turkey is booming in terms of counterfeit cosmetics and clothing, the black market is estimated to be worth more than six billion Dollars annually.

Just beware that these fake products are of much lower quality than the original, genuine branded merchandise. With a market this big, there’s even room for differentiation in quality between one counterfeit product and the other. Some jeans or shoes are hard to distinguish from the original by untrained eyes, while others are clearly fake with only the brand logo stitched onto them. Similarly for perfumes: some will have lost their fragrance by the time you’ve arrived back home, while others have a shelf life similar to the real thing. Since it’s hard to tell which level of quality you’re buying on the street, beware that you may end up with a worthless product. That means you’ll definitely want to haggle the price down, even if the initial asking price already seems like a great deal.

Besides being overcharged for a far inferior product, importing counterfeit goods will even pose a risk at the airport upon arrival back home. The customs in your country may be strict if they find imitation brand products in your luggage. The items are sure to be confiscated and you may even risk a hefty fine. Customs in some countries may not fine if you take 3 counterfeit items or less, but they’ll still confiscate the clothing, and you’ll have to leave your shopping trophies behind.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Istanbul and Turkey Tourist Scams Forum.

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