The Top 10 Items You Won't Believe They Counterfeited

July 29, 2010

Counterfeit products are a real problem if you're charging offensive amounts of money for useless crap.  Nobody actually cries when Louis Vuitton loses a sale to a cheap knockoff, and not just because he's French.  But believe it or not, counterfeit products are a lot more common, and a lot more stupid, than you'd think.

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By Dan Seitz

10. Chocolate

You might expect handbags and electronics to be forged, but not cheap crap you get at the convenience store.  Yet it gets forged all the time too.  You might recall Ferrero Rocher as those gold-wrapped chocolates that are everywhere every Christmas, including your stocking, whether you want them or not.  At fifty cents a pop, you’d think the profit margin on forging these would make it pointless. Don't underestimate those industrious Chinese, though.  In September 2007, counterfeit Ferrero Rocher chocolates were found on the American market.  The packaging was perfect, but the Chinese manufacturer forgot one very little tiny detail: chocolates aren't generally flavored with maggots.

Even worse, they didn't even change the protein percentage on the label.  Come on, guys, at least be accurate!

9. Beer

Source: Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons it sucks to live in Nigeria.  When the best job in the country is sending spam emails pretending to be a deposed dictator who wants to deposit $10,000,000 in your checking account, you know it’s a bad place to live.

Just to make things worse, they can’t even get a decent brewski.  Nigerian beer distributors, obviously out to reinforce our opinion of Nigeria as the Land of Fraud, regularly doctor cheap beer with a variety of flavorings and try to pass it off as fancier stuff like Guinness.  Guys, instead of stealing our money to buy decent beer, just ask.  We’ll ship you some.


8. Batteries

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Forging batteries seems kind of pointless.  After all, people can usually tell if the battery is fake or not about five seconds after flipping the on/off switch repeatedly and realizing nothing has happened.  But apparently, counterfeiting batteries is big business.  After all, all you need to do is make a cheap battery and wrap a fancy brand label around it, right?

Well, you should also make sure that the battery doesn't explode or catch on fire, too.

7. Extension Cords

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Hey, speaking of power sources that are dirt cheap and pointless to forge, how about extension cords?  There can't be anybody forging cord most people only buy when they move and realize their lamp is across the room from the only outlet, right?

Yep, there's a market for counterfeit extension cords.  Mostly it comes from the fact that it's kind of expensive to get a mark from the Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), so instead of actually subjecting their products to safety testing, they just slap the mark on there and ship it out.  After all, it's not like anyone is going to notice!  Until the fire starts!

6. Toothpaste

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You probably don't think much about the stuff you use to scrub your teeth.  You've got a brand, you buy it at the store, maybe you change brands occasionally depending on which one is available.  Just avoid the one with the crooked printing, since it might have the cleaning power of anti-freeze.

Back in 2007, 5 ounce tubes of Colgate turned up containing diethylene glycol, a chemical you usually find in your engine.  Why, precisely, anti-freeze turned up in toothpaste remains a mystery.  Or maybe not.  If it's good enough for metal parts, it has to be great for teeth, right?


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5. Cigarette Papers

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There are many things that make sense to counterfeit.  Zig Zags are not one of them.  Especially not $16 freaking million worth of Zig Zags.

We're going to use our writing talents and come up with the exact scenario where millions of dollars worth of fake joint wrappers were produced:

Counterfeiter #1: Dude…like, dude.  Have you ever like…looked at your hand?

Counterfeiter #2: No.  No, hands are for…

Five minute pause, then fits of giggles.

Counterfeiter #2: I am so baked!

Counterfeiter #1: Hey, I was thinking…we spend so much money on rolling papers, dude.  We should, like, make cheaper ones.  But call them by the name of the fancy ones!  Like we did with that toothpaste.

Counterfeiter #2: Dude, awesome!

4. Shampoo

Source: Garry Wade/Taxi/Gety Images

Usually, as you might have noticed, these counterfeit products tend to come from a certain country that we won't identify except to say they have the most population and an absolutely terrible human rights record.  However, far be it from us to claim that the Chinese have any sort of iron grip on anything other than the thoughts and actions of a billion people.  No, sometimes, large corporations that are almost as scary can pirate products too, usually their own.

So it is with Proctor and Gamble, which got in trouble over unloading "waste" amounts of its shampoos on Canadian distributors. Apparently P&G thought they could just say, "Yeah, don't fake our bottles", and it wouldn't occur to the guys buying shampoo by the drum that they could rebottle the stuff, and if that actually happened, they probably just shrugged and said "Hell, it's only Canada".  That's what you get for being too polite to complain, Canucks.

3. Christmas Lights

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Yes, the joy of Christmas can be just as fraudulent as the emotions of bitter, twisted families who refuse to talk to each other the other 364 days of the year, but coming up with fake Christmas lights seems to just be rubbing it in.

Nonetheless, they do exist.  And, actually, they reflect the true spirit of Christmas: they look nice, and work for a while, and then burn your house to the ground.  And then your parents start drinking, and your sister turns into a hobag, and you never get that Super Nintendo you were promised…

Not that that ever happened to us.

2. Colas

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Here's a dirty little secret: soda costs nothing to make.  Seriously.  That Jumbo Mega PorkGulp?  It cost the gas station you bought it from approximately a nickel.  Maybe a dime.  And what'd they charge you?  Uh-huh.

But, there is nothing so powerful as greed, and some beverage providers in Britain realized that they already had the Coke and Pepsi stickers on their fountains…so why not buy Generi-Cola, and make…a penny or two more?

We guess it adds up, but really, guys?  You couldn't do something to make money counterfeiting that had even the resemblance of being bad-ass?


1. Baby Formula

Source: Vladimir Godnik/Getty Images

Believe it or not, fake baby formula is big business.  Seriously.

Take the case of Mohamad Mostafa, who decided to sell substandard baby formula as Similac, and managed to move 3500 cases and go on the run for six years before getting banged up on federal charges.  Investigating that turned up another 10 operations in eight states.  There are even cases of criminals selling fake baby formula to farmers in, where else, China.

We haven't found any execution-style murders or violent baby formula smuggling rings yet, but give it time, we're sure it's coming.



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