Have you ever wondered if it was a crime to counterfeit products? Yes, it is! And a very serious one too. Counterfeiting may be misunderstood as a harmless crime. It may not seem a big deal to copy a product and pass them off as a real one. But the truth is far more serious. The damage counterfeit causes to the brands have been discussed extensively and the majority misses the most dangerous side of counterfeiting. Counterfeiting has become a significant contributor to organised crime, providing a powerful revenue stream that supports a range of criminal activities.

What is Counterfeiting?

To begin with, let's define what counterfeiting is. Any production of goods that are intended to deceive a consumer can be called counterfeiting. This is especially true in cases where products are manufactured in the same design and look like an existing product without their permission. These goods can include anything from luxury watches to medicines. They are often sold at very low prices making them popular among consumers. These products have endangered brands across industries.

The Economics of Counterfeiting

Counterfeiting is found to be a highly profitable business, with the value of counterfeit goods sold every year estimated to be worth over $600 billion per year. This has made counterfeiting an attractive option for crime syndicates to make some quick bucks without risking much in the process. Maximum profit, low risk!

How Does Counterfeiting Support Organized Crime?

One of the reasons counterfeiting is so profitable is that it's a low-risk crime. Compared to other illegal activities, like drug trafficking or human trafficking, the penalties for counterfeiting are relatively minor. Criminals involved in counterfeiting can often operate with the privilege of knowing that the likelihood of being caught and punished is low.

The other reason why counterfeiting is so profitable is that the profit margins are incredibly high. The cost of producing a counterfeit product is often a fraction of the price of the real thing. This means that organized crime syndicates can make huge profits by selling counterfeit products at just slightly below the price of the genuine article.

So, how does counterfeiting help organized crime? There are several ways in which counterfeit goods can support criminal organizations:

Funding Other Criminal Activities

Counterfeiting is a lucrative business that generates billions of dollars each year. Organized crime groups use the money they make from counterfeiting to fund other illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism. In fact, the global value of counterfeiting is around $3 trillion by 2023, with organized crime groups being responsible for a significant portion of that amount.

Tax Evasion

Counterfeiting also supports organized crime by allowing them to evade taxes. Counterfeit goods are often sold at a lower price than genuine products, which means that legitimate businesses lose out on revenue. In addition, counterfeiters do not pay taxes on the goods they sell, which means that governments miss out on tax revenue. This loss of revenue can have serious consequences for the economy and can lead to cuts in essential services such as healthcare and education.

Exploitation of Workers

Would you work for 18 hours a day without any weekend holidays? An undercover investigation in a Chinese factory reported that employees had to work 18 hours seven days a week, which means they barely get time to sleep. Most counterfeit products are manufactured in such places with less hygiene and a terrible working environment. These places often hire children to do the dirty work, torturing and abusing them to get their products ready to be distributed worldwide. China has been the largest manufacturer of counterfeit goods in the world and is infamous for such degenerate factories. A majority of the people working there won’t have an option other than to stay due to the poverty and low standard of living they face.  

Money laundering

One of the main ways that organized crime syndicates use counterfeit goods is to launder money. Criminals will often use the profits from counterfeiting to invest in legitimate businesses, effectively laundering the money they've made from illegal activities. This allows them to conceal the true source of their income and avoid detection by law enforcement.


Most times, counterfeiting money has been passed onto terrorist organisations themselves. Making the problem even more grievous. This terrorist organisation is responsible for the death of millions and damages costing billions of dollars every year. Counterfeiting products turns out to be the easiest way to make money to do their dirty work as it does not have the same punishment as other crimes do, which turns out to be a comfort for them but a serious threat to the world.

The Challenges of Combating Counterfeiting!

Organized crime groups have been engaged in counterfeiting activities for decades and the problem continues to threaten the world the government and law enforcement agencies find it hard to put a stop to them. Why? Because of the following reasons.

Globalization and Technology: The rapid pace of globalization and the increasing use of technology has made it easier for organized crime groups to manufacture and distribute counterfeit goods. The internet has become a primary platform for the sale of counterfeit goods, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down and prosecute offenders.

Complex Supply Chains: The production of counterfeit goods involves a complex network of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Organized crime groups have developed sophisticated supply chains that can be difficult to trace, making it challenging for law enforcement agencies to identify the source of counterfeit goods.

High Profits and Low Risks: Counterfeiting is a low-risk, high-reward business for organized crime groups. The profits from the sale of counterfeit goods can be significant, while the risks of prosecution and imprisonment are relatively low compared to other criminal activities.

Limited Resources: Law enforcement agencies have limited resources to combat counterfeiting, and the problem is often not given the same priority as other crimes such as drug trafficking and terrorism.

Lack of International Cooperation: Counterfeiting is a global problem, and effective solutions require international cooperation among law enforcement agencies and governments. However, the lack of coordination and cooperation between different countries makes it difficult to combat the problem effectively.

Public Perception: The biggest challenge to preventing counterfeiting is that people tend to buy counterfeit products rather than the original. Most people do this to avoid the exorbitant price some products may cost, leaving no other option but to buy their replicas. Another problem is that people are not able to differentiate between the replica and the original one leaving them victims of fraud. And when these products fail to provide the same qualities the originals would have offered, the blame often falls on the head of the brands as they are unaware of being cheated.

Counterfeit has been a major threat to brands across industries but now it has become a menace to the entire world. The growing terrorist activities and crime rates in parallel with the growing counterfeit market speak for themselves. The ignorance of the bigger picture has turned out to worsen the problem rather than solve it. And it is high time that the authorities and government agencies took the necessary steps to prevent it from worsening anymore. But we as brands, customers and citizens can also do our part in ending it. Brands can adopt anti-counterfeiting solutions which will have a greater impact on the prevention of counterfeiting than any other solution out there. Customers can be aware of their brands and the products they want to buy rather than just looking at the price. Citizens can take every measure to stop the fake market by using legal tools to ensure that any counterfeits they encountered won’t be passed off without getting reported.  So by working together it is possible to put a noose to the counterfeiter's neck and obliterate organised crime along the way. Let's rebuild the world for a better, merrier and more compassionate future.