Drugstores, discount shops, websites that appear to have been created in 1999—we've all run across designer fragrances for sale in decidedly undesigner settings (for very undesigner prices) and wondered if they could possibly be real. Those too-good-to-be-true deals usually are just that, and in case you doubted it, five men have been arrested in New York by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for knowingly selling counterfeit designer perfumes made with ingredients including antifreeze and urine across at least seven states.
The arrests were made as part of an ongoing two-year investigation—aptly named Operation Bad Odor—into counterfeit perfume and cosmetics. The members of the counterfeit ring allegedly imported the sketchy generic fragrances as well as forged designer perfume packaging (including Daisy by Marc Jacobs, Chanel No. 5, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, and Gucci Guilty) from China and then resold them in several U.S. states and online.
The authorities reportedly recovered approximately 10,000 boxes of the faux scents, whose ingredients included the aforementioned urine and antifreeze along with "other unpleasant, flammable, or dangerous chemicals that burn when applied to the skin." The combined charges could land each of the men anywhere from 10 to 30 years in prison. "We are seeing more counterfeit beauty products and cosmetics, and that specific area is an area where we're aggressively targeting the individuals who sell those goods," said Khaalid Walls, a spokesperson for ICE.
The problem isn't limited to the U.S. Last year, England began dealing with a major epidemic of fake beauty loot, including designer fragrances, cosmetics, and hair tools, which the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit estimated had cost the public about 90 million pounds (around $140 million). No matter what country you're in, the best way to ensure you're getting the safest, most effective products is to shop at legitimate sources (meaning no discount stores and definitely no questionable websites) and stay away from deals that seem too good to be true. As Walls notes, "Anything that can be counterfeited is a potential profit for the individuals or group who are selling these inferior goods. If you're getting a counterfeit beauty product or cosmetic, the reality is you don't know what's in it."
Shop some our favorite legitimate scents below:
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