What you may not realize when shopping for Internet bargains, or flea market bargains, or street corner bargains, is that in addition to buying some kind of product you think you want, you are supporting all the things that go along with the underworld of counterfeits.
As the former statewide prosecutor of Florida, I’ve dealt for years with organized rings of thieves and counterfeiters. They sell pharmaceuticals, electronics, and of course handbags and watches. I have seen into that world and worked against them for years. I am fortunate to have seen the real impact that counterfeits have, not just on our economy, but on lives. Most consumers haven’t seen through that window, so I thought I’d share some of the hidden “benefits” you get every time you buy something that is counterfeit.
Supporting Slave Labor (Manufacturing)
Many counterfeit goods are made in developing countries by gangs that have no regard for their workers. Know that with every counterfeit you buy, you are helping to employ slaves who toil in horrific conditions. They receive little pay and work at the whim of the bosses. While some may be more humane, you don’t know who treats their workers well and who doesn’t.
Safety is never a concern for the counterfeiter, because you can literally just go out and buy more workers if you need them. You can sleep knowing that the handbag in your closet has given someone forced into labor a few more hours of breath while they pleased the master.
Endangering the Environment
If you think the labor conditions are the only miserable thing you’re supporting, think of the fine environmental practices that your counterfeiting dollars go to support. Producing counterfeit clothes and handbags requires dyes (more on that in “Endangering Your Health” below); producing electronics requires chemicals; most manufacturing of any kind requires some toxins.
Even though you diligently sort your recycling at home, you can rest assured that that level of “paper and plastic discipline” does not exist on the counterfeiters’ factory floor. Even though these counterfeiters are polluting on the other side of the world from where you live, your counterfeit purchase supports really hazardous polluting all over the world—buy local/impact global!