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While social media allows us to connect with the rest of the world it comes with an underbelly. A new report says that Instagram and Facebook are hot spots for the counterfeit apparel industry.

As per Reuters these very popular platforms are now the go to destinations for billions of dollars worth of illegal fake goods. According to the to a recent report developed by social media analytics firm Ghost Data individuals within bootleg industry are creating empires online.  “A trend that is seemingly widening focused on Instagram counterfeiting activities, from luxury handbags to designer sunglasses to counterfeit money and passports. A growth partially due to the Covid-19 lockdowns that in the last two years have pushed forward online shopping for consumers worldwide” the report reads.

While it might be obvious that IG is flooded with all types of fakes it wasn’t always the go to online destination for bootleggers to hawk their goods. “Facebook and Instagram are the key marketplaces where counterfeit goods get sold to members of the public. It used to be eBay 10 years ago, and Amazon five years ago,” said Benedict Hamilton, a managing director at Kroll, a private investigation company hired by brands hurt by counterfeiting and smuggling.

Such growth is likely to have accelerated further amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as government mandated lockdowns and widespread consumer caution has significantly impacted consumption behaviors and prompted a stunning rise in ecommerce activity. Counterfeiters have benefited from the spike in online shopping, which has been prompted in part by the increased comfort of consumers of various

demographics to not adopt e-commerce as a mode of shopping but to shop for a wider array of goods online than ever before.

While META (parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) is working towards to minimize the counterfeiters on their social platforms the nature of the apps provide these snake oil salesmen a place to hide with direct messages and the ability to set up phony accounts. “They’re creating a lot of unique opportunities for counterfeiters to hide,” said Lara Miller, vice president of corporate strategy at the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. “We’re all playing catch-up.”

Photo: Louis Vuitton