A new report from Electrical Safety First and the elaborately-named PIPCU (the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit) says that almost a third of us have been tricked by fake electricals including phone chargers, hair stylers and the notorious 'Kodi boxes', putting us at risk of fires and electric shocks.
Based on a survey of 1,807 UK consumers, the report showed that 30% had bought dodgy products, and urges people to be careful what they're buying in the run-up to Christmas.
The resulting campaign is called #ShockingFakes, and specifically calls out Kodi boxes:
— Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (@CityPolicePIPCU) November 29, 2018
Named after the completely-legit Kodi media centre software, 'Kodi boxes' are streaming devices with the software preinstalled, plus often a bunch of piracy-enabling add-ons that allow people to view stuff they haven't paid for and aren't entitled to.
The boxes have already been banned from sale on Facebook, various sellers have been jailed for hawking them in pubs, and we've been repeatedly warned that they might burn your house down. Do people listen when there are cheap TV shows to be had? Do they heck.
Lower prices are presumably also one of the main drivers behind people buying fake hair straighteners:
Test your counterfeit spotting skills - in the image below, can you guess which set of hair straighteners are the counterfeit version? Vote in our poll now by expanding this tweet! #shockingfakespic.twitter.com/SIzo50kyom
— Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (@CityPolicePIPCU) November 28, 2018
Sadly I can count myself among the 30% there: I once bought my sister a pair of hot pink GHDs on eBay after they sold out in the shops. They were no cheaper, but as it turned out when they changed colour and started giving off dangerous fumes after a few uses, they certainly were fake.
There is of course a cringetastic video to go with the campaign:
Plus alarming case studies from the London Fire Brigade, who are also part of the campaign, noting that even an unbranded phone charger can burn your flat down.
We'd love to believe public information campaigns like this will stop people buying dodgy products, whether online or in more obviously ropey situations like pubs, but past data shows that's not likely. Still, if it stops someone's Christmas presents going up in smoke, it's worth it.
Ever bought a fake? How, why, what happened? Let us know in the comments. [Trusted Reviews]