Counterfeit empires cost taxpayers £8 billion a year | City & Business | Finance

Apart from the loss of tax revenue, organized crime gangs make illegal profits from sex trafficking and importing Class-A drugs into the UK. According to the latest figures, the global cost of illicit trade has now risen to £3.5 trillion.

This figure is equivalent to the world’s fourth largest economy and is larger than Britain’s GDP.

According to the FBI, terrorist organizations that finance terrorism through the sale of counterfeit cigarettes include Hamas and Al Qaeda. The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015, which killed 12 people and injured 11 others, are believed to have been financed by cigarette smuggling and the sale of fake designer trainers.

Fake designer clothes and cigarettes, gangs and terrorists sell fake watches, jewelry, toys, perfumes, cosmetics and other products.

On top of lost tax revenue, legitimate producers are forced to raise prices, harming the economy and putting jobs at risk.

The data, which reveals the extent of the black market, has been compiled by Crime Stoppers International for the launch of today’s World Anti-Illicit Trade Awareness Day.

The global charity has called on governments to ensure that anti-illegal trade laws are part of border controls, with tougher penalties for violators.

It urges people struggling with the cost of living to shun street market bargains on designer goods and smuggled cigarettes.

Crime Stoppers International has launched an advertising campaign called Illegal Empire to expose the huge harm caused by the sale of counterfeit goods.

Shane Britton, chief executive of Crime Stoppers International, said: “Buying counterfeit goods can feel like a harmless crime. But in illegal trade, there is no such thing. The cost is often human, through forced labor and sex trafficking or financing terrorism.

“The solution is for governments to include anti-illegal trade measures as part of their border control policies, and to back these up with tougher laws against violators. The current lack of government action is allowing an ‘illegal empire’ to grow.”

Earlier this month, the City of London Police raided a storage unit in Southhall, west London, and discovered an Aladdin’s cave of £200m worth of fake designer goods.

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