Episode 3 Fake Britain


Episode 3

Dominic Littlewood reveals how families are being targeted by conmen when their children are on gap year trips. Plus the terrifying story of fake and dangerous hair straighteners.


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Transcript


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Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

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Welcome to Fake Britain.

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Police!

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In this series, I'm investigating the world of the criminals

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who make their money at your expense.

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I'll be showing you how not to get ripped off.

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Coming up, the dream job offer that turned out to be fake.

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Everything you've worked for has gone.

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My car's gone, my home's gone.

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You know, my job's gone.

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Tracking down the people selling fake medicines which are flooding Britain.

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Your average internet purchaser could be playing Russian roulette with their health.

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And the fake gap year con

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that confronts parents with their worst fears.

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It hit me incredibly emotionally. I cried like I'd never cried before.

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Every parent would dread hearing the news that their son or daughter

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had been involved in an accident or was in trouble,

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especially if that news came while the youngster was travelling abroad.

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But I've discovered some con artists are preying on parents who are out of touch with their children.

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It's called a fake emergency.

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Gavin and Vina Hogg live in the Brecon Beacons,

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a world away from the gap year their son was having in South America.

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Having finished their A levels, Josh and his cousin planned an adventure in South America

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before heading off to Bristol University.

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Him and his cousin wanted to travel throughout Bolivia, Peru,

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and Ecuador and Colombia.

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Colombia was the last leg of the holiday

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and his parents were a little nervous.

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I was a little concerned that he hadn't gone with an organised group.

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We'd heard that Colombia could be a bit dodgy.

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Josh had just one epic bus journey left

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before he could catch his flight home.

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He was in Bogota and then the next day he got on the bus to Quito, a 30-hour bus journey.

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Gavin and Vina knew their son was going to be unreachable for the next 30 hours.

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So it was a surprise when they got an email from him.

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There was an email from Josh Hogg. His emails always came in as Josh Hogg.

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I opened it up and the words were, "Hey, Mum,

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"I'm emailing you from a Colombian military prison.

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"The police have taken me off the bus.

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"They planted cocaine on me."

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It was the news that every parent dreads

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and they imagined the worst.

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I just felt completely sick. It gets you right in the stomach.

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Your first reaction as a parent is you've got to help.

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Whether that's money, or jumping on an aeroplane,

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and flying out to that country.

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We had to look at all our options.

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The next 24 hours were hell for Gavin and Vina

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as they tried to explore ways to get their son home, as he asked for money.

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I must have had four or five emails from him,

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saying "They're not going to release me to an ATM machine,

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"you've got to get me out of here."

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Gavin and Vina were at their wits' end.

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They couldn't speak to Josh and didn't know where to start looking for him.

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I kept saying, "Josh, find out where are you. Where exactly are you?"

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And he would respond, "I'm in the middle of nowhere."

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Every time they found a solution,

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the fear they could read in their son's emails changed their minds.

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We said we'd contact the embassy

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and he very quickly responded, "Don't contact the embassy.

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"If the officials start coming in, they'll have to officially arrest me."

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And that would complicate his situation.

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And we thought, "Yes, you can see that. Best to pay the money and get out."

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But time was running out as they were about to lose contact with Josh.

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They'd be completely in the dark and cut off from their son.

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And also, Josh had been saying,

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"I don't know how much more they'll let me use the computer.

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"It's a bit random."

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And then Josh introduced, "I've met this Canadian guy here."

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When Josh stopped emailing us and the Canadian guy introduced himself.

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"I've just been released." Then all the correspondence was with this Canadian guy."

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He told us that he was a UN worker who'd been arrested.

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He'd been delayed in his research in the jungle due to the heavy rains.

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We knew there'd been heavy rains in Colombia, so that tied in.

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That he knew the country very well and that basically Josh was quite safe

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but they wanted money for his release.

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Relieved to have some connection to Josh,

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they didn't doubt for a second that Chris was someone they could trust.

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He called. We actually spoke to him.

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He told us a bit, that his wife was pregnant back in Canada,

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and she was asleep in bed because she'd spent the last 48 hours

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stressing about his capture.

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Then he introduced the concept of Moneygram and Western Union,

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which we'd never really come across before.

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They needed 750,000 pesos for his release,

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which equated to 273 English pounds.

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We'd been tearing our hair out as the first four times we tried to transfer money, it wouldn't do it.

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It was only when we used a debit card that it accepted it.

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So we had all the money ready to go

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but we couldn't actually make the transaction until the offices opened at seven in the morning.

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So we then had to ask this guy Chris, "Are you prepared to wait another six hours

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"before we can actually verify the transaction and it will be released."

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So it was a bit... It was pretty nail-biting.

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Their only link to their son locked away in a foreign prison

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was the Canadian, Chris.

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He was their only hope.

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In our mind's eye, he was sitting in this dusty cafe

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in the middle of a terrorist war zone

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with a military prison over there.

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And he was waiting for his taxi to arrive and then he was gone.

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But all was not as it seemed.

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Find out what did happen to Josh later in the programme.

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Astonishingly, all of these medicines are fake.

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From life-saving cancer and fertility drugs to heart tablets.

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As I've been discovering, fake medicines is one of the most dangerous and lucrative

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criminal industries in the world.

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Buying medicines online is certainly not what the doctor ordered.

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We're on a dawn raid with Wiltshire police

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who've had intelligence that a local resident is importing and dealing in fake medicines.

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We're en-route to execute a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

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This is information that a chap has been importing controlled drugs Class C.

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The house has been under surveillance by undercover agents

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and the suspect doesn't know he's being watched.

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They know that he's on his own in the house

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but they don't know exactly what drugs they'll find.

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-MAN:

-Oh, don't do the door!

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The suspect is arrested on suspicion of importing and supplying

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medicines which are illegal without a prescription.

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Once he's dressed, we'll remove him from the property and continue looking for evidence.

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He's taken downstairs so they can search his bedroom.

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The man is suspected of importing and selling fake prescription drugs from his home.

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The raid is a tiny part of a £50 billion industry making fake medicines.

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The problem is so bad that big pharmaceutical companies are fighting back.

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Today's raid is a direct result of their own investigations.

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One of the simplest ways of fighting counterfeit, clearly,

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is for us to use agents

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to go onto the internet and purchase from websites various products

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which we then analyse to see if they are indeed the genuine article.

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Working with the postal services,

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they intercepted parcels coming into the UK from China and India.

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Large amounts of fake drugs ordered by individuals

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sets alarm bells ringing.

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The number of packages that must be arriving from overseas,

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it's evident that some of them will be getting through, placing people's lives at risk.

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They found an alarming number of parcels addressed to the house in Wiltshire.

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The believe they have evidence he bought 65,000 pills in just five days.

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So the post to the house was watched.

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The next-door-neighbour was also tricked into signing for parcels

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but had no idea what was in them.

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These are unopened.

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Yeah, that's the stuff from India.

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When you purchase medicine online, it could have been manufactured in a garage somewhere.

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We've found appalling hygiene conditions

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with rat faeces and other rubbish lying around on the floor.

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Clearly some of this has made its way into the products that have been manufactured.

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Your average internet purchaser potentially could be playing Russian roulette with their health.

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Later on, we find out exactly what drugs were found under the mattress.

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And how a job offer that was meant to improve a life turned it upside-down.

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There's nothing I can do except try and drag myself out of the gutter

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and hopefully get another job.

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And we're on the cutting edge of the fight against fakes.

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Maybe cut your leg off or worse.

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Millions of homes in the UK, with the exception of mine,

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have got a set of these - hair straighteners.

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Because they're so popular, that's made them a target with counterfeiters.

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Now, do bear in mind with these that you have to plug them into the mains socket.

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And if you've bought a fake, just like one of these - and all of them are fakes -

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you could be in big trouble.

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17-year-old Rebecca from Leicestershire wanted some hair straighteners for her birthday.

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She chose a pair of Good Hair Days, or ghd's, which her boyfriend bought for her online.

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They looked really good and I was really pleased when I opened them on my birthday.

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But when she used them for the first time,

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she had anything but a good hair day.

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When I noticed they weren't running smoothly through my hair,

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at first I thought it might have been part of my hair extensions stuck to it or something.

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But then I realised it was a big chunk of my hair

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just stuck to the plate of the straighteners.

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I was scared, so I unplugged them and ran down to Mum.

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She had the straighteners in her hand, and they were black

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and all her hair was on it.

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I was like, "Oh, my God!"

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Every time I ran my fingers through it, bits kept coming out.

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The smell came all the way down the stairs. It was really horrible.

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I immediately rang ghd and that's when they told me to give them the serial number.

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I gave them the serial number and they said they were fakes.

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I said, "No way!" And they said, "I'm afraid they are."

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They'd bought a pair of fake ghd's from what she thought was their genuine website.

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But even that turned out to be fake.

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The website had all the proper pictures on

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and the look was exactly the same as the official website.

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And it also had on it

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"This is a genuine website connected to ghd

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"and beware of imitations."

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So we didn't think anything of it.

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When buying off the internet,

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check it's a genuine website by looking at the address bar.

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If it is genuine, it should be official like "ghd hair.com".

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But if it's a made-up address like ghd555 that Becka bought her straighteners from,

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then it's time to worry.

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Real ghd's cost about £100.

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But the fakes aren't cheap either.

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They're just expensive enough to make you think you're getting a good deal online.

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It wasn't half price. It was only 20 to £30 off the original price.

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So we didn't think anything of it that it could be fake.

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3.7 million counterfeit products are seized every year

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at Britain's borders like Felixstowe, the UK's largest container port.

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UK Border Agency officer Anne sees a steady flow of these fake straighteners

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coming through Felixstowe docks.

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Within the box we're looking at a nice case to keep your hair styler in

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once it's out of the original packaging.

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A "How to" DVD.

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Instructions on what to do.

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And then in here we've got the styler itself.

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A plug on it for the UK market.

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But these are potentially so dangerous.

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With no safety standards,

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these dodgy pairs can heat up to 285 degrees Celsius.

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Genuine ghd's don't go beyond 200

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because after that, human hair can melt.

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You're not just talking someone burning their hair.

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The entire thing could catch fire.

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The best that would happen would be that they didn't work at all.

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But the fraudsters are getting clever. Because Customs are so good at seizing fakes,

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they've started to import the parts separately and put them together here in the UK.

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This loophole means it's not a fake until it's been rebranded.

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What would have sold for a fiver can now go for £100.

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Working with a UK border agency,

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Nottingham Trading Standards launched their biggest seizure operation ever.

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The operation was huge.

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There was a huge amount of product and a lot of money had changed hands.

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So in my experience, it's the biggest operation

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I've been involved in in 25 years of trading standards.

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In this ordinary suburban house in Nottinghamshire,

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Stuart Peach and his gang were making millions in a major criminal operation,

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importing and assembling piles of fake goods.

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During the raid,

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they seized 5,000 pairs of hair straighteners, all of them fake

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and potentially deadly.

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The key thing here is all of the effort has gone into making them look like the real thing.

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No effort has been put into making sure they're safe.

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In this criminal operation alone,

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ghd would have lost half a million pounds

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with 5,000 people falling for the dangerous fakes.

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Fake electrical items are dangerous.

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You lose your money, maybe your hair, and even your life.

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Josh Hogg is on his gap year in Colombia.

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Having got on a 30-hour bus journey,

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his parents then received the worst news they could imagine.

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Their son had been taken to a military jail.

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They think their only hope of getting him out is the friendly Canadian Chris,

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who says that he can help.

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I got up at half past five, back down to the email. "Chris, are you still there? Can't sleep."

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He replied back, "Yes, I'm still here. It's OK. The driver's asleep. And it won't be long now."

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When you send your money via Western Union,

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they give you a ten pin digit number.

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We sent that to Chris

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who said, "I will give it a go.

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"I will try it now.

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"Next time you speak to me I will probably have Josh with me."

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Just half an hour before the money transfer went through,

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their 24-hour ordeal was almost over.

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And then the phone rang.

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At 6.15 that morning,

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the phone goes and Gavin picks up the phone.

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And it's Josh.

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All I can hear Gavin saying is, "Is that you, Josh? Is that you?"

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He didn't know who it was. "It's Josh." "Who?" I said,"Josh!"

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"I'm in Quito. What's been going on?"

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Then he gave me to his cousin. "Yeah, we're both here. What's going on?

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"Don't give any money!"

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Unbeknown to them, Josh's parents had been the victim of a scam.

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Chris, who they'd trusted, was actually a fraudster.

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He'd known the boys would be out of contact for 30 hours

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and had hacked into Josh's email and Facebook accounts

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and pretended to be him to his parents.

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Josh had never been in jail but had been on the bus the whole time.

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Amazingly, when they got into Quito at two in the morning,

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after a 30-hour bus journey, there was an internet cafe open.

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We read them all and realised this guy's quite clever.

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He knows everything we've done. So I was really angry,

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livid with this guy.

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What he'd done to my parents was unspeakable.

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My first instinct was, "If it's not Josh in prison, who's the poor kid in prison?"

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Then I thought, "God, what are we going to do with Chris?

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"This poor guy who's been sitting in a dusty roadside cafe

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"waiting to release Josh.

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"How am I going to deal with him?

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"Maybe I should still send the money."

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I was so far into the story and the film and then it went bang and suddenly stopped.

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Yep, it didn't occur to us it was a whole hoax.

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It hit me incredibly emotionally.

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I cried like I never cried before, really.

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It all just crashed in around me.

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I just thought, "Yeah, it's a scam. A complete scam."

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It is evil. It's messing with people's heads.

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People's security.

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We got completely sucked in. It was totally believable.

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Yeah, he went right in there and took us right in.

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Tom, you're the founder of gapyear.com.

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That was a pretty horrific story. Just how common is it?

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It's very rare. It's important to say that for any parents

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whose children are about to go travelling,

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"I don't think they should." But it is something that could be on the rise.

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The parents are often the target.

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The parent is the person at home with money in the account.

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People think, "I could get to the parents through the kids."

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There has to be a way for the parents to know it's a genuine email. What's the answer?

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We've seen a lot of code words. It's not new,

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the use of a code word to say are you genuine, Dom? Are you the person I know?

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So make up a fictitious member of the family. "How's Uncle Trevor?" Fit it in so it's a buzzword.

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"There is no Uncle Trevor", so there's something going wrong.

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From a parent's point of view, be aware that your child might be a target.

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And what you do if the worst happens.

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It's vital parents get involved in their children's trip.

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Especially for the younger gappers.

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"What do we do in an emergency?"

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Quite often it's a thing parents don't want to talk about.

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It's their worst nightmare that the child has problems thousands of miles from home.

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We advise everyone to have a list of embassies and addresses of where they're going

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-and give a copy to their parents.

-A lot of people use internet cafes

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and could offload software there.

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-How do you get round that?

-Obviously, when you're travelling, the system's not yours.

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And they can access your details. It's vital with digital travel

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that you secure everything.

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Don't give people access to your passwords, lock your Smartphone down.

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Access to your travel plans, your itinerary.

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If people know where you're going and know your home address -

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often it's written on our luggage, "This is where we live",

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they've got half the information they need to be able to scam you.

0:21:330:21:37

It's doing the obvious things that we take for granted. If you don't do it at home, don't do it overseas.

0:21:370:21:44

Still to come, the very harsh reality of accepting a fake job.

0:21:490:21:54

It's pulled everything from under you.

0:21:540:21:57

It's hard to put on a brave face.

0:21:570:22:00

And the green-fingered in danger of losing their fingers

0:22:000:22:04

with fake chainsaws.

0:22:040:22:06

Wherever it touches, face, shoulder or neck,

0:22:060:22:10

he's going to suffer a severe injury or possibly even death.

0:22:100:22:13

We're back in the house in Wiltshire that's been raided by the police.

0:22:200:22:24

Following a tip-off, they're looking for fake prescription drugs

0:22:240:22:28

that have been imported from India and China.

0:22:280:22:31

We're looking for any paperwork that relates to any transactions.

0:22:310:22:35

Any drugs, pills, anything.

0:22:350:22:37

Having found the packaging stashed in the wardrobe,

0:22:370:22:40

they soon find the drugs.

0:22:400:22:42

Is there any evidence of any counterfeit medication at the moment?

0:22:420:22:47

-Neurazepam tablets, that one.

-OK.

0:22:470:22:49

But we've got a lot more of what looks like those under the bed.

0:22:500:22:54

Everywhere the police look, there's evidence of drug use.

0:22:540:22:58

Even in the cat's basket!

0:22:580:23:01

There's evidence of drug use with discarded needles and bottles of methadone everywhere.

0:23:020:23:07

They're finding thousands of fake tablets. All the drugs are illegal if not on prescription.

0:23:090:23:15

We've got hundreds of packets of - I don't really know what it is.

0:23:150:23:19

What do you reckon? Some form of Viagra, I'm guessing.

0:23:190:23:23

But there's much more than fake Viagra - thousands of packets of prescription sleeping drugs,

0:23:230:23:30

Zolpidem and Diazepam, as well as Lorazepam, which treats anxiety and insomnia

0:23:300:23:36

and is unlicensed in the UK.

0:23:360:23:38

Expert Phil Cottrell has led hundreds of investigations

0:23:380:23:42

like the one that led to the raid in Wiltshire.

0:23:420:23:45

They monitor what can be bought online and what is imported into the country.

0:23:450:23:49

He's examining a batch of fake sleeping pills which his team bought online.

0:23:490:23:54

This pack arrived a couple of days ago.

0:23:540:23:57

It contains several blister strips of the product.

0:23:570:24:00

This appears to be, on the face of it, Stilnox.

0:24:020:24:06

The printing on the rear

0:24:060:24:09

actually looks very good.

0:24:090:24:11

However,

0:24:110:24:13

I know the manufacturing date and the batch number portrayed on the strip are not genuine.

0:24:130:24:20

The only way to really tell for sure is by getting them tested in a lab.

0:24:200:24:25

All the drugs seized in the Wiltshire raid

0:24:250:24:28

will also be tested to confirm if they are counterfeit.

0:24:280:24:31

First, Phil takes some suspect prescription heart tablets that he bought on the internet

0:24:310:24:36

to the anti-counterfeiting lab in France.

0:24:360:24:39

If my suspicions are confirmed and they prove to be counterfeit,

0:24:390:24:43

the implications for any patient or anybody taking these products could be dire.

0:24:430:24:48

The scale of the problem is so big

0:24:500:24:53

they've had to set up a high-tech lab especially to fight the counterfeiters.

0:24:530:24:57

The World Health Organisation estimates that ten per cent of all the medicines in the world are fake.

0:24:570:25:04

This lab alone examines 75,000 suspect packages a year.

0:25:050:25:10

They're testing a drug called Plavix.

0:25:100:25:13

The real drug is taken by patients who've had a stroke,

0:25:130:25:16

have heart conditions or have high blood pressure.

0:25:160:25:19

Patients rely on this medicine to keep their blood thin

0:25:190:25:23

and prevent another stroke.

0:25:230:25:25

If this medicine were fake, things could go very wrong.

0:25:250:25:29

We've checked the batch number

0:25:290:25:31

and see that the product batch number does not exist.

0:25:310:25:34

The other difference we have observed on the pack

0:25:340:25:38

is that there's no safety labels.

0:25:380:25:42

They've proved the packaging is fake.

0:25:420:25:45

But are the tablets dangerous?

0:25:450:25:47

They crush and dissolve the tablets and analyse the chemical content

0:25:470:25:51

with an infra-red spectroscope. Now they can see exactly what's gone into them

0:25:510:25:56

and what patients are unknowingly putting into their mouths.

0:25:560:26:00

The graph in red is the result obtained with the suspected product.

0:26:000:26:04

It's very low

0:26:040:26:06

compared to the blue one.

0:26:060:26:10

This product is definitely a counterfeit medicine.

0:26:100:26:14

So in this batch there is hardly any active ingredient in the pills.

0:26:140:26:19

If you took these fake tablets with a heart condition,

0:26:190:26:22

it could be fatal. But the dealers don't think about the patient.

0:26:220:26:26

At the end of the day, they're in business to make money

0:26:260:26:29

and they don't want to kill off their patients.

0:26:290:26:32

However, they have no compassion for the people taking these fake medicines.

0:26:320:26:36

Coming up, the fake electronics made in China which are heading for the UK.

0:26:410:26:46

They're dangerous and potentially deadly.

0:26:460:26:49

There are up to 30,000 electrical fires a year in the UK alone

0:26:490:26:54

that can cause harm and even death.

0:26:540:26:56

This is something you don't want to mess around with.

0:27:050:27:08

Using a chainsaw is potentially a very dangerous thing.

0:27:080:27:12

But one criminal gang ordered thousands of deadly fakes from China

0:27:120:27:16

and then sold them right here in the UK.

0:27:160:27:18

But what's really scary is the fact that many of these

0:27:180:27:21

are still out there in people's garden sheds and they don't even know it.

0:27:210:27:26

A few years ago, a horror movie was the closest most of us came to chainsaws.

0:27:300:27:35

But with the DIY and gardening boom, sales have surged.

0:27:370:27:41

Eager to cash in,

0:27:410:27:43

factories in China have been churning out fakes of top name brands

0:27:430:27:47

with deadly flaws.

0:27:470:27:49

As PC Angus Wilson discovered on patrol in rural Dorset.

0:27:500:27:53

In this job, you go out and you never know who you're going to stop or what you'll see.

0:27:540:27:59

The officer pulled over an Italian driver with a faulty rear light.

0:27:590:28:03

Then he opened the boot.

0:28:030:28:05

He couldn't account for where the chainsaws had come from.

0:28:050:28:08

He basically said he was just travelling round selling them.

0:28:080:28:13

I believed because he couldn't account for them they may be stolen chainsaws.

0:28:130:28:17

In fact, they were part of an £11 million flood of fake top-brand tools

0:28:170:28:23

unleashed across Europe.

0:28:230:28:24

A Mafia-style gang from Naples had shipped them in from China.

0:28:240:28:28

We don't know what this product is going to do if we start it up. These could be lethal.

0:28:280:28:34

With so many sold,

0:28:340:28:36

Dorset Trading Standards feared novice gardeners had potentially taken deadly tools into their homes.

0:28:360:28:44

They took them to professionals using genuine Stihl tools.

0:28:440:28:47

I wouldn't want to use it!

0:28:500:28:52

No. It's plastic.

0:28:520:28:54

It looks like it could break off or even possibly jam,

0:28:540:28:59

which, if it did jam, the chain's not going to stop spinning if the brake's off.

0:28:590:29:04

You could cut your leg off or worse.

0:29:040:29:06

Altogether, police raids have seized 800 tonnes of the gang's goods across Europe.

0:29:060:29:13

Strict European safety checks are built in to the real thing.

0:29:130:29:17

Crucially, something called a chain break

0:29:170:29:20

stops the razor-sharp blade rotating if it kicks back towards your face.

0:29:200:29:26

Manufacturers Stihl discovered fakes with their name on had no chain break.

0:29:260:29:32

If the bar and chain comes back towards the operator at full speed,

0:29:320:29:36

wherever it touches, face, shoulder or neck,

0:29:360:29:40

he's going to suffer a severe injury or possibly even death.

0:29:400:29:44

Next came tests on the handle above the rotating blade.

0:29:440:29:47

This looks a very cheap plastic.

0:29:470:29:50

The real one on the left, the fake on the right.

0:29:500:29:53

In the pendulum test,

0:29:560:29:58

this broke off.

0:29:580:30:00

If that were to happen whilst somebody was using it,

0:30:000:30:03

their hand could drop down onto the chain with severe consequences.

0:30:030:30:09

In 32 years of using chainsaws,

0:30:130:30:16

I've never come across such a shoddy chainsaw.

0:30:160:30:19

And not only is it shoddy,

0:30:190:30:22

but it's dangerous.

0:30:220:30:23

Many of the people supplying these fakes have now been arrested.

0:30:230:30:27

But beware. From Dusseldorf to Dorset, lots of these fakes have never been traced.

0:30:270:30:34

High unemployment in the UK is bad news for the job market

0:30:450:30:49

but good news for the crooks.

0:30:490:30:51

They've reached a brand-new low -

0:30:510:30:54

fake job offers.

0:30:540:30:56

As Iain and his pregnant wife, Claire, found out.

0:30:560:30:59

I heard I was going to be a dad and I thought it was fantastic.

0:30:590:31:03

You want the best for your family.

0:31:030:31:05

When you find out you're pregnant, you plan to buy a new pushchair,

0:31:050:31:10

buy a new cot, new things for baby, decorate the baby's room.

0:31:100:31:15

Look forward to having a new child in your life, basically.

0:31:150:31:21

With a baby on the way, money was going to be tight,

0:31:210:31:24

so Iain looked for a new job.

0:31:240:31:26

I decided to look for employment

0:31:260:31:29

that paid more money than what I was on to give our daughter a better start in life.

0:31:290:31:34

I went searching on the internet

0:31:340:31:36

and found through Directgov a job that stood out from the rest.

0:31:360:31:41

He said, "I've seen this job. It's a brilliant job.

0:31:410:31:45

"Something I want to do, something I can do.

0:31:450:31:47

"Do you want me to apply for it?" I said, "Go for it."

0:31:470:31:51

What Iain had found was a job with a £30,000 salary

0:31:510:31:54

offering the chance to be a chauffeur to the stars.

0:31:540:31:58

The interview went fantastic.

0:31:580:32:00

As I was leaving he says, "Have you seen the vehicle you'll be driving if successful?" I said, "No."

0:32:000:32:07

He says, "The car's outside. Have a look on the way out."

0:32:070:32:10

It was a £70,000 BMW.

0:32:100:32:13

He did tell me during the interview

0:32:130:32:16

there was a £100 retainer, in case you lost the fuel card or car keys.

0:32:160:32:21

Iain paid the £100 and waited for some news.

0:32:210:32:25

The postman came and it was an acceptance letter and a contract.

0:32:250:32:30

I felt on Cloud Nine.

0:32:320:32:34

We just wanted to tell everybody, tell the world that he'd got this fantastic job.

0:32:340:32:42

I thought, "I've landed on my feet." It was supposed to be a nine till five sort of job.

0:32:420:32:47

I thought, "No weekend work. It'll be fantastic for the family."

0:32:470:32:52

I was really looking forward to it from my previous job which was heavy graft.

0:32:520:32:57

I handed my notice in at my employer. I thought I'd have a couple of weeks off before starting.

0:32:570:33:04

I was expecting to get a letter just before I started saying where I needed to be,

0:33:040:33:08

what I needed to be doing, whether I'd be doing some training.

0:33:080:33:12

The week before I was due to start, I tried ringing them,

0:33:120:33:16

went on the internet, got some contact numbers, and rang and rang. No response.

0:33:160:33:21

After a couple of hours, it really sunk in

0:33:210:33:24

that there was no job.

0:33:240:33:26

Mark Shortland was the man behind this scam.

0:33:260:33:30

He was a serial con man

0:33:300:33:32

and had interviewed over 80 people across the whole of the UK,

0:33:320:33:35

offering chauffeuring jobs to all of them

0:33:350:33:38

and collecting their £100 retainers.

0:33:380:33:41

But it wasn't just £100 that Iain lost.

0:33:410:33:44

It was devastating. You have the rug ripped from under your feet.

0:33:440:33:48

You've given up your employment to start your new job

0:33:480:33:53

to find out it's just a scam.

0:33:530:33:55

You know, it's horrific.

0:33:550:33:58

Iain rung his old company where he used to work, the next day

0:33:580:34:01

and asked them if he could have his old job back.

0:34:010:34:05

They said they'd get back in touch in a couple of days,

0:34:050:34:08

which they did and said there was no position for him now.

0:34:080:34:12

I've no longer got any income whatsoever.

0:34:120:34:15

But they weren't the only ones who were sucked in by serious fraudster Mark Shortland.

0:34:150:34:20

DC Juliet Faram had been investigating him.

0:34:200:34:23

Of course, we've then become aware of this matter

0:34:230:34:27

and as a result arrested Mark.

0:34:270:34:29

He was convicted and given a three-year sentence.

0:34:290:34:32

His scores of victims have been left to pick up the pieces.

0:34:320:34:35

They had gathered on fraud alert websites,

0:34:350:34:39

allowing DC Faram to see the scale of devastation left in Mark Shortland's wake.

0:34:390:34:44

There's so much on there from quite a few people who've been affected by it.

0:34:440:34:49

I mean, this is today. This chap - I didn't mention him, actually -

0:34:490:34:53

"Due to the stress of this scam happening, I've lost the sight in my eye, my right eye."

0:34:530:34:58

And that was June. I did speak to him, actually,

0:34:580:35:03

and he said it was through the stress of all that happened, he lost his sight.

0:35:030:35:08

Like all the other victims, Iain and Claire have to rebuild their lives.

0:35:100:35:15

With no salary and bills still to pay,

0:35:150:35:18

they've had to sell their car which was on hire purchase,

0:35:180:35:21

leaving them with another debt.

0:35:210:35:23

Due to being on finance and losing my job, I couldn't keep up the payments any more.

0:35:230:35:29

So I had to contact the finance company and ask them to come and collect it.

0:35:290:35:34

It was gut-wrenching, you know.

0:35:340:35:37

Behind on their rent,

0:35:370:35:39

Iain and Claire have had no choice but to pack up and leave their home.

0:35:390:35:44

Tomorrow we're leaving the property.

0:35:440:35:47

Everything's been packed up and it's the final nail in the coffin.

0:35:470:35:53

Everything you've worked for has just gone.

0:35:540:35:57

-TEARFULLY:

-It's hard to put on a brave face

0:35:570:36:00

and carry a baby...

0:36:000:36:02

Sorry.

0:36:020:36:04

These things have happened and there's nothing I can do about it

0:36:080:36:12

apart from drag myself back out of the gutter and try and get another job.

0:36:120:36:17

And my wife's due to give birth, you know?

0:36:170:36:21

From a man's perspective,

0:36:210:36:24

um...

0:36:240:36:25

..what can I provide?

0:36:270:36:29

Mike, you're the chairman of Safer Jobs.

0:36:370:36:40

Just how big an issue is it?

0:36:400:36:41

The problem is on the rise now.

0:36:410:36:43

We don't get to hear about every case

0:36:430:36:45

because people are embarrassed about being duped out of money

0:36:450:36:49

and being a victim of fraud.

0:36:490:36:50

But the problem is on the rise because more people use the internet to look for a job

0:36:500:36:55

and more people need to get into work in the economic climate.

0:36:550:36:58

Are we saying every job on these sites is a fake, or are there genuine ones there?

0:36:580:37:03

Absolutely not. There are many genuine jobs.

0:37:030:37:06

There are about half a million jobs advertised online at the moment.

0:37:060:37:09

Of course, the absolute bulk majority of those are completely genuine.

0:37:090:37:14

But you need to look to some of the indicators to make sure

0:37:140:37:17

that you don't fall into any of the traps.

0:37:170:37:19

What can people who find themselves in this position do to protect themselves?

0:37:190:37:24

Make sure that the company you're dealing with look like they're reputable.

0:37:240:37:28

Look at the contact information, look at the quality of the advertising you're applying to.

0:37:280:37:35

You don't want to be parting with any moment up front at all.

0:37:350:37:39

And be very cautious of any personal information such as national insurance number, passport number.

0:37:390:37:45

In the last series, we told the tragic story

0:37:500:37:54

of how a youngster died after using a deadly fake charger bought for his Game Boy.

0:37:540:37:58

Sadly, loads of dangerous electrical items are still flooding into Britain.

0:37:580:38:03

Experts say it's only a matter of time before the next tragedy.

0:38:030:38:07

Fake electrical products come in all shapes and sizes.

0:38:070:38:12

We've seen fake hair straighteners and deadly fake chainsaws.

0:38:120:38:16

I wouldn't use it.

0:38:160:38:18

Cut your leg off or worse.

0:38:180:38:20

They're all posing a threat to people in the UK and all imported from China.

0:38:200:38:25

This is unseen footage from inside a factory in China which manufactures fake electrical goods

0:38:250:38:32

destined for Britain.

0:38:320:38:33

They're part of the 30-million-pounds'-worth of fake electricals

0:38:330:38:37

which enter the UK every year.

0:38:370:38:39

And each and every one of them is potentially deadly.

0:38:390:38:42

Kevin Harris is a counterfeit investigator for the electrical industry.

0:38:420:38:47

He's working undercover in China

0:38:470:38:50

to try to stop the fakes from leaving the country in the first place

0:38:500:38:54

so they can never reach Britain.

0:38:540:38:55

I fear that the UK will become open house

0:38:550:39:00

for fake goods,

0:39:000:39:01

for cheap goods. We all want a cheap deal, of course,

0:39:010:39:05

but not at the expense of safety.

0:39:050:39:07

The figures that we have for deaths and electrical fires,

0:39:070:39:10

I can see them soaring.

0:39:100:39:12

At this factory in China,

0:39:120:39:14

they're making thousands of plug sockets every day.

0:39:140:39:17

So we go along to the trader or the factory, we pose as a potential buyer

0:39:170:39:22

of these counterfeit products.

0:39:220:39:25

They don't comply with British safety standards.

0:39:250:39:28

But that doesn't stop them.

0:39:280:39:30

They will put on any brand, any mark, any certification mark.

0:39:300:39:34

They have no respect, no regard, and no thought about your safety.

0:39:340:39:40

In this warehouse, they find lots of counterfeit British brands.

0:39:400:39:44

There's also stacks of fake packaging that the counterfeits were going to be shipped in.

0:39:440:39:49

This is Volex over here. It's all Volex.

0:39:490:39:52

Yes, and there. Over there.

0:39:540:39:56

It's easy to see the scale of the problem, and Kevin and his group have their hands full.

0:39:570:40:02

It's a culture issue. It's an enforcement issue.

0:40:020:40:05

Hundreds of thousands of products are seized by our group every month.

0:40:050:40:10

In the ten years that I've been doing this work, 14 million products have been seized and destroyed.

0:40:100:40:16

They're all counterfeit and all highly dangerous.

0:40:160:40:20

It's reported there are approximately 50 deaths per year caused by electrical incidents.

0:40:200:40:25

There are up to 30,000 electrical fires a year in the UK alone.

0:40:250:40:29

They can cause harm and even death.

0:40:290:40:32

Finding the fake goods isn't enough for Kevin.

0:40:320:40:35

At present, when we go to China, we have to operate a "cradle to grave" operation.

0:40:350:40:41

We have to see the products being destroyed. It's the end product of our work.

0:40:410:40:46

But the work goes on. These products are dangerous.

0:40:460:40:49

Back in Wiltshire, the police have raided an ordinary suburban house

0:40:540:40:59

and are looking for fake medicines.

0:40:590:41:01

The suspect is arrested on suspicion of importing, supplying and selling prescription drugs without a licence

0:41:010:41:08

and fraud by selling fake Viagra.

0:41:080:41:11

To check that nothing has been missed by the team,

0:41:110:41:14

they bring in Griff, their star player.

0:41:140:41:17

The police had to safely remove the needles so the dog could have a rummage.

0:41:170:41:22

He sniffs around for any drugs they might have missed in all this mess.

0:41:220:41:27

He showed some interest in there, but it might be that drugs were stored there at one point.

0:41:280:41:33

The team have done their job well. There's nothing left for Griff to find

0:41:330:41:37

except some left-over pizza.

0:41:370:41:40

But the drugs they have found are worth around £15,000.

0:41:410:41:45

This is a considerable find.

0:41:450:41:47

It backs up the intelligence that's been gathered over several months regarding the subject.

0:41:470:41:54

It's really in this front bedroom was a considerable amount of what we were looking for.

0:41:540:41:59

They continue their search to see if they've missed any crucial evidence.

0:42:010:42:05

We've got the exhibits, but we're still looking.

0:42:050:42:08

They've bagged and tagged the evidence

0:42:080:42:10

and will work with the pharmaceutical companies

0:42:100:42:13

to clamp down on fake drugs being imported into the UK.

0:42:130:42:17

Although they've seized almost 5,000 tablets,

0:42:180:42:22

it's a tiny drop in the illegal £50 million industry.

0:42:220:42:25

It's such a big problem that the World Health Organisation

0:42:270:42:31

believes that over half of all the medicine you can buy online is fake.

0:42:310:42:35

It could be going on anywhere in back rooms, garages and suburban homes just like this one.

0:42:360:42:42

All across the UK, dealers are importing these dangerous drugs

0:42:420:42:47

and putting our lives at risk.

0:42:470:42:49

That's all from Fake Britain today.

0:42:550:42:57

Bye for now!

0:42:570:42:58

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:190:43:22

Dominic Littlewood reveals how families are being targeted by conmen when their children are on gap year trips abroad. We follow investigators from a leading pharmaceutical company who are hot on the trail of fake medicine dealers.

Plus, the terrifying story of the fake and highly dangerous hair straighteners, and how deadly fake chainsaws were sold to unsuspecting members of the public. And the tragic story of how the offer of a job - which turned out to be fake - brought one young family to financial ruin. And we show the scale of the fake electricals industry in China by following the work of a UK investigator.


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