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Fake Consoles Cause Holiday Woes

The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) released a statement on Friday reporting that counterfeit consoles and power adapters are being sold online from Asia-based websites, fooling customers into thinking they are getting the supposed gaming units cheaper than retail outlets. The HMRC has already seized hundreds of the counterfeit devices and discovered that they are supplied with "potentially dangerous power adapters." Most of what they found was fake versions of the Nintendo DS and DS Lite, claiming to be "genuine Nintendo products," selling for almost half the original cost.

And while it’s easy to slip in a "save a few bucks" frame of mind during the holiday season, often when deals are too good to be true, then they probably are. HMRC’s Head of Intellectual Property rights Pamela Rogers says that consumers should be vigilant, to buy from a respected, well-known website and to check all the facts before purchasing a product, especially from sites located overseas.

"At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning; at worst, they could have caused serious harm or injury," she said in a press release. "Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules."

Mike Rawlinson, managing director for the trade body of the UK game’s industry ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), agrees, saying that more needs to be done to end the damaging counterfeit games market, as fake goods not only defrauds tax payers, but puts the children at risk. "This is an issue that affects all retail businesses, particularly at Christmas, and more needs to be done to work together to mitigate the risks posed by fake goods. We are also continuing to work very closely with Trading Standards Officers on this important safety issue and we also want to thank them for their diligence."

While Rawlinson thanked the HMRC for alerting all ports for incoming counterfeit goods, Nintendo verified that the consoles in question were in fact fake DS and DS Lite consoles. Nintendo also said that the power adapters supplied with the fake units were potentially dangerous since they were not electronically tested to meet strict UK safety standards.

Recently consumers slammed Nintendo for the company’s strict policy regarding the Wii Speak microphone. Originally, Nintendo announced that only one activation was allowed for the device, leaving it utterly useless in the used-games market or if consumers lost the activation code after buying a new console. But even though the company caved in and said it would provide additional activation codes if needed, game piracy, the used-games market and counterfeit hardware fueled the company’s original decision.

This holiday season, it would be wise to steer away from "killer deals" online or schemes that offer free consoles after completing numerous surveys. While many respectable websites my be legit on their holiday discounts, the internet is also littered with scam artists intent on persuading un-educated consumers into shelling out money for products that may eventually cost more than the original product, perhaps even cost lives.

  • waffle911
    This is nothing new. You could find these all over the place in China Town, and shady-looking gift shops. I've seen fake PS2's and Xbox's a number of years ago. In truth, they aren't anything close to the real thing--they're those cheapo crap systems that come with "50 games in 1" or some higher number, the really cheaply produced and/or ripped off old games that kids pay $5 for a handheld and get bored after 30min., or if you get a "decent" console you get ripped off verbatim Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter ROMs, among other games.
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  • JeanLuc
    If your shopping and you find yourself a bargin that’s to good to be true then it probably is, however these hustlers are very clever at what they do and human greedy is a soft target especially at this time of year.
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  • Tindytim
    You will almost never Find a new console below it's MSRP (if the Console pulled a Dreamcast, or the world was ending/ended).

    Anyone that actually believes that crap deserves to get what they did. It's Christmas, and your going to spend a few hundred dollars on a product, a rather large investment for quite a few people. Do some research, instead of acting like a victim of your own idiocy.
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  • unless of course you buy refurbished which contrary to popular belief the hardware works a high percentage if not all the time since the company is required to rigorously test and fix problems before they are allowed to put it back on the market. Even if there was something wrong with it though most places offer a 30 day money back guarantee or a replacement if they have enough inventory of the product

    Actually this misinformation is probably the only reason they are priced so cheaply at sometimes a 35% discount or greater so I won't complain to much if misinformed people get me cheaper hardware.
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  • resonance451
    Aren't you guys playing the whole "you could die from a fake Wii" thing up a bit too much?
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  • kittle
    Just like the article says -
    "If it sounds too good to be true -- it probably is"
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  • The console hardware makes a very minor profit so they are RARELY marked down below MSRP much less 50% off. Games are where the money is made so if you are looking for a deal look for a system with bundled games or a "buy 2 get the third free" deal at any local game store.
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  • JonnyDough
    Silly Asians. Tricks are for kids!
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  • JonnyDough
    The only way to ever fix these problems is to crack down on governments which have no law or ability to regulate. We also need to crack down on offenders, they're ruining it for everyone. I do not cheat, lie, or steal. Why should I suffer for people that pirate or make fake products? I say those people trying to make a quick deceitful buck should BURN. They used to STONE people for this kind of thing, and with good reason. Strict law is the only law there is. A slap on the wrist penalty means people are willing to take the risk of not getting caught.
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  • Tindytim
    JonnyDoughThe only way to ever fix these problems is to crack down on governments which have no law or ability to regulate. We also need to crack down on offenders, they're ruining it for everyone. I do not cheat, lie, or steal. Why should I suffer for people that pirate or make fake products? I say those people trying to make a quick deceitful buck should BURN. They used to STONE people for this kind of thing, and with good reason. Strict law is the only law there is. A slap on the wrist penalty means people are willing to take the risk of not getting caught.They're only breaking the law when they make false claims.

    It's one thing when people get ripped off on smaller, less expensive things. But the fact of the matter is it's the buyers fault in most cases. Some simple research would get rid of the majority of these problems. There are always going to be people out there try to make a quick buck at the expense of others, punishing them will only deminish how many there are, they will always be there.

    But if no one is ignorant enough to fall for it, and people spend some time researching their products and services, no one will be able to make money trying to scam others.
    Reply