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Police inspect haul of fake phones

GLOBAL – Everyone likes a bargain, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for. And if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

It’s World Consumer Rights Day, and in conjunction, the mobile industry has set up a new website called Spot a fake phone. Michael Milligan of the Mobile Manufacturer’s Forum says the issue is growing fast:

“The global black market for fake handsets has been growing rapidly over the past few years with the total size of this market estimated to be in excess of 200 Million devices.”

That’s more than ten per cent of the 1.5 billion phones sold last year.

Fake or counterfeit phones are a big problem for everyone. Why? Lots of reasons.

1. You aren’t going to get what you paid for. It might say 3G, WLAN, GPS and all the rest, but once you get it home, it’s entirely possible that you’ll have a mobile monstrosity that’s barely capable of making a phone call. In any case, because they are made using cheaper, often inferior components, fake phones simply won’t work as well as the real deal.

2. You’re not likely to be able to take it back. And good luck six months down the line when it breaks and you look for warranty service.

3. The fake might well be dangerous, too. Since they don’t submit the phones for any kind of regulatory approvals, the manufacturers of fakes may use banned, dangerous substances and not worry about safety standards when you come to plug it in to recharge, or complying with exposure guidelines.

To take one example, genuine mobile phone batteries are stringently tested against industry, national and international safety standards. They contain safety circuits to regulate the voltage, current and heat inside. Fake ones often don’t comply with any standards. You may have heard media reports of exploding phone batteries causing injury – in most cases, these can be traced back to the use of fake batteries.

4. Genuine, honest retailers are losing trade because of fakes peddled by dishonest ones. We all want the good guys to stay in business so you can continue to buy with confidence that your consumer rights will be upheld.

5. Your government is losing revenue – you don’t think these guys are paying taxes, do you?

6. And lastly, manufacturers are losing revenue. Lost sales, copyright infringement and price erosion affect their ability to continue to create competitive, leading edge devices across the world.

So you don’t want to buy a fake – but how can you avoid it?

The Spot a fake phone site has lots of advice on how to avoid making mistakes. Sometimes it’s obvious: if the name’s spelled ‘Nokoia’, then it hasn’t come from us. If your ‘retailer’ is a small table in the corner of a street market, then buyer beware.

Fake X6


But counterfeiters are often a lot more sophisticated, producing items that appear to be identical to the real thing. In this case, careful research is a great antidote. Know what features the phone is supposed to come with; what colours are offered; the position of buttons, the camera and other physical features.

This problem has been escalating for a while. Here’s one guy showing the differences between a fake Nokia N95 and the real thing. You’ll note that anyone purchasing the fake would undoubtedly be very unhappy with their ‘bargain’.

If you do spot a fake phone, then report it – it’s in everyone’s interest that this practise is stamped out.

As you can probably guess, Nokia takes counterfeiting very seriously and we have ongoing activities around the world to protect consumers and Nokia’s business. And it’s clear that counterfeiting is linked to other global, criminal activities.

Our specialist team works with police, customs authorities and other government organizations to support successful raids on counterfeiters and illegal exporting activities. And we’ve conducted a number of successful legal cases against those who prey on consumers looking for a deal.

Have you had any experiences with fake phones? What happened?

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