OLYMPIC sportswear has joined booze and tobacco on the podium in the fakes race this Christmas.
South Yorkshire has seen an explosion in dodgy games-related goods being sold at markets and on the internet, according to Trading Standards.
The counterfeit industry is having one of its best Christmases ever – as officials paid to protect the public are squeezed by spending cuts.
Sheffield Trading Standards manager Phil Glaves said: “We are dealing with big distribution networks at the moment, especially tobacco and alcohol, but we’re also seeing an explosion in sportswear in the run-up to the Olympics.
“It’s traditional brands, but the quality varies, the makers are not paying taxes and it’s funding other forms of criminality.
“We’re also coming across large quantities of fake drink. It’s not monitored, it’s not controlled and it’s potentially dangerous – we have made seizures after people complained vodka made them ill.
“It’s a good Christmas for the counterfeiters.”
At Heathrow Airport 1,100 seizures were made of items valued at £10m in the last eight months – the same as the whole of last year.
In August, 45,000 pairs of fake Ugg boots were found in container freight in Southampton, the biggest such seizure in Europe.
Phil said: “There’s only a certain percentage of stuff Customs can check.
“We are only a small department and we have a lot of enquiries ongoing. It does give us cause for concern.
“It’s big business – people are importing stuff from everywhere.”