With the cost-of-living skyrocketing, British Bases Customs officials caught opportunistic individuals attempting to save money by purchasing counterfeit goods and smuggling them over the crossing points.
Over the past month, officers have revealed several seizures of fake designer trainers as individuals look to exploit the counterfeit market in the Turkish-occupied north.
Head of SBA Customs and Immigration in Dhekelia, Mark Hartley, explained: “Whilst commercial quantities of counterfeit footwear have previously been detected and seized at the crossing points many of the recent seizures are opportunistic individuals who are looking for a cheap deal.
“With an ever-increasing cost of living, travellers are looking to exploit the prevalent counterfeit market in the north to purchase designer goods at a reduced cost.”
The counterfeit production of fake Nike, Adidas and Armani trainers can also be linked to something far more sinister than saving money, according to the Customs chief.
“It is estimated that the value of the counterfeited goods market makes up around seven per cent of the annual world trade ($600 bln).
“This illicit market is heavily controlled by organised crime groups with links to money laundering and corruption.
“It is known that migrants have been smuggled into countries, coerced into selling counterfeit goods, whilst children are exploited for their labour in producing counterfeit items.
“Often as young as six, children are forced into illegally working in violent and hazardous conditions.”
The illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods not only costs the government huge amounts of money in loss of taxes, but Hartley also said there is a cost to society, as additional law enforcement is required to tackle the problem and funds are diverted away from social services, schools and national health services.
Hartley warned that counterfeit goods were also prevalent online.
“A study has shown that nine out of 10 designer apparel items bought from online market sites are fake.
“However, the counterfeiting of goods is not limited to clothing; it covers a vast array of products from automotive parts, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and many more.
“Counterfeit goods and fraudulent medicines pose a very serious risk to public health and safety.
“With no legal regulation, consumers are at risk from unsafe and ineffective products.”
Customs officials also confirmed that vehicle crossings remain extremely high in the Bases, with “18,000 vehicle movements entering the SBAs across the two crossing points, with 160 persons refused entry in a week”.