Warning over fake Frozen merchandise

Hundreds of fake items of children’s clothing and toys carrying images of Disney’s Frozen have been seized by UK border control officers.

Other rip offs include GHD hair straighteners, Ugg boots and North Face coats.

Fake Frozen goods are among the most frequent seizures made at British ports.

These have been judged especially dangerous because poorly-made plastics can be highly flammable, or present choking hazards.

Gavin Terry, joint lead officer for intellectual property at the Trading Standards Institute, said: "Counterfeit goods may seem like a bargain but they can be truly dangerous.

"Often untested, poorly made and untraceable, counterfeit Frozen toys could be poisonous, pose a choking hazard or be made of highly flammable material.

"Some seized counterfeit Frozen toys have had a stylised logo designed to appear similar to, or pass off as, a Disney-branded product."

In the financial year 2013/14 Border Force detained more than 24,000 consignments of Intellectual Property (IP) infringing goods in postal traffic and more than 1,900 consignments in air and sea cargo and vehicle traffic.

Once counterfeit items are detained, Border Force’s specialist international trade teams work with the owners of big brands to establish whether or not goods are genuine. If they are fake the goods are destroyed and the rights holders can then decide whether to privately prosecute the importers.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said: "Counterfeit goods leave customers out of pocket with inferior and possibly dangerous goods.

"The international trade in counterfeits is linked to serious and organised crime and undercuts honest traders, damaging our economy.

"We are determined to crack down on this criminality and have officers working 24 hours a day at ports, airports and mail sorting centres to identify these products before they can reach people’s homes."

Examples of detections over the past six months include:

* £18,000 worth of counterfeit Disney Frozen merchandise including dresses, dolls and bags, seized at Stansted Airport and 426 Frozen dolls at Dover docks.

* £10m worth of watches carrying Rolex, Tag Heuer, Omega, Armani and Breitling branding, as well as baseball caps and Beats by Dr Dre headphones at Southampton docks.

* £1.9m worth of counterfeit beauty products, including Marc Jacobs, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gautier and MAC cosmetics, and Beats Pill speakers at Felixstowe port.

* £790,000 worth of fake GHD hair straighteners seized at Coquelles.

* 10,000 pairs of fake Nike trainers at Hull port.

Border Force South Regional Director Carole Upshall said: "Everyone loves a bargain, but if the price appears too good to be true – either at a car boot sale, a market stall or online – it probably is.

"We are uncovering all sorts of fake goods, from beauty products to food and electrical goods.mPeople should be particularly wary of buying cheap items online or from unofficial traders."

Anyone who has been sold counterfeit goods or knows someone who is selling them should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Picture courtesy of Border Force