Counterfeit luxury goods have flooded Instagram and Facebook, turning these popular social media platforms into a hotspot for counterfeiters to flourish. This leads to the question, how can shoppers with a taste for pre-loved luxury goods protect themselves when purchasing items?
In a June-October 2021 study, research by social media analytics from the firm Ghost Data shared exclusively with Reuters, an international news agency, that there are more than 26,000 active counterfeiters operating on Facebook. This has led to a high number of counterfeit sales, leaving consumers paying the consequences.
Calgarian Masha Manina fell victim to an elaborate scam that involved multiple fake Facebook profiles and counterfeit necklaces. Which led to her sharing her story on Facebook Marketplace and with the Calgary Journal.
Manina is an admirer and a frequent consumer of the brand Tiffany & Co. One cherished item in her possession is a Tiffany blue double heart tag pendant. She was looking for the same necklace as a gift for someone, but, to her knowledge, it had been discontinued within the store.
One day when Manina was scrolling through Facebook Marketplace she came across the same necklace in perfect condition and she jumped at the opportunity.
The ad showed the necklace with the original box, dust bag, and the shopping bag you get after purchasing it in the store. The price listed on the ad was only a little lower than what Manina had paid in store for hers. Given that Manina owns a few Tiffany & Co. pieces, she was confident in her ability to spot a counterfeit if she was ever put in the position to do so.
Manina messaged the seller and they discussed a place and time to meet. When asked, she said she wasn’t concerned about the transaction, because the seller was very confident and assured Manina that it was authentic, along with the fact that they were very open with letting her examine the necklace before purchasing it.
Manina went to the meet up location, she held up the necklace to the light and believed that “all the right things were placed on the necklace.”
Only when she compared her original necklace and the necklace purchased from Facebook Marketplace did she realize there were distinct differences.
“A side by side comparison…let me know that ‘yeah this doesn’t seem real at all.’”
After noticing this, she took the new necklace to a Tiffany & Co. store to be authenticized. At first glance, Manina says the employee reassured her of its authenticity. Only when the employee looked at it with a magnifying glass and got a second opinion from another employee did they conclude it was in fact counterfeit and a “really good copy,” says Manina.
Manina immediately messaged the original seller informing them that she knew it was a counterfeit and that she would like to get her money back. However, the seller promptly blocked her and deleted their account.
Manina later came upon the exact same ad on Facebook Marketplace, but from a different Facebook account. Leading her to the realization that she was now a part of an elaborate scheme.
Because of this experience Manina learned to watch out for key signs surrounding counterfeit items.
According to Manina, Tiffany & Co. won’t have sloppy finishings on their dust bags or boxes and “the little blue Tiffany’s bag…that holds the jewelry, [will] always have a middle divider, always.”
Cases like Manina’s are what inspired Tammy Le to start her business Luxe Du Jour, which is available both as a bricks-and-mortar store and an online retailer.
Luxe Du Jour is a Canadian founded luxury boutique, where customers can shop for pre-loved luxury items, as well as sell, consign, rent, restore and accessorize them.
Le started collecting luxury bags at a younger age and grew a genuine interest in the market. Only after she was duped herself did she realize the dangers of buying online. The desire to share her passion and to educate the public on the world of counterfeit luxury goods is what she is driven by. Now, with stores in Calgary, Malaysia, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Thailand, she is able to fulfill her dreams.
A recent report from the firm Ghost Data revealed that the production and purchase of counterfeit items leads to various harms including, hits to brands sales and reputation, potential safety issues of unregulated goods, and ties between counterfeiting and organized criminal activity.
“It’s the shady industry behind it, right? It’s supporting an illegal organized crime,” says Le. “These manufacturers, that are creating these counterfeits. They know it’s illegal, so how are they getting people to work here is what we have to think about.”
Le is very educated on the prevalent effects counterfeits have on consumers and the companies that create these luxury items.
“Imagine if you created, you worked 20 years to build up your company and then you have someone replicate it and try to sell it off as if it was that.”
Which is why she is passionate about educating the public on the danger of counterfeits while supplying them with an avenue to buy used luxury items through a safe source.
Luxe Du Jour follows a trusted authentication process which includes in-house experts who specialize in the brands they carry, along with an artificial intelligence authentication device and app called Entrupy. This process guarantees authentication as fast as 60 seconds and reassures buyers and sellers with a certificate of authenticity.
When attempting to buy luxury items online, Le explains that, “a business would never be a private instagram [account], a business would always be public and they would never turn off comments, because if they turn off comments…they don’t want people to know that people are trying to comment that they are scammers.”