Fake or real? Buying gifts online

Local 6 investigates how you can tell if a product is fraudulent


Kristen Donlan says she was duped.

"I was very upset. Because you're expecting if it says buy Apple you're expecting it to be by Apple," she said.

But the headphones Donlan ordered on Amazon were not--they were fake.

"When I got the box they had all kinds of misspellings on it, they spelled California wrong," she said. "And that was a big red flag thinking oh these are not by Apple."

Craig Crosby, publisher of the Counterfeit Report website spoke to Local 6 via Skype. He says Donlan shouldn't be surprised.

"It's not unusual at all for a consumer to purchase something thinking it's authentic and receive a counterfeit item," he said.

In fact, counterfeit products are all over the internet including Ebay, Amazon and Craigslist listed as 100 percent genuine or authentic. Dishonest sellers almost always use a manufacturer's photo of the product.

"They are not taking photos of their own because people will pick out the counterfeits from that some of the indicators are obvious," Crosby said.

So if you can't tell if it's the real deal when you click buy-- how can you tell when it arrives at your door?

Look for misspellings, poor quality, cheap or poor packaging.

The "Otterbox" it is the #1 seller of cases for smartphones and has the most imitations.  Here is one way to tell--the branding on the authentic Otterbox should be clear, legible and straight. The fake has uneven branding and is almost illegible.

Dr. Dre Beats headphones is another product that the web is saturated with thousands of counterfeit versions.

And for Mac users--beware of the fake USB power adapter. It looks similar until you read the fine print. The real one says designed by Apple in California vs. the imitation that reads designed by China in California.

But the biggest scam going is fragrances. There are more fake perfumes online than any other product. Crosby says 60-80 percent are not real although it looks virtually identical, for an example, Mark Jacobs Daisy perfume.

"There are subtle little differences for instance the flowers on the box, the gold centers to the flowers are not perfectly centered, their askew they are off centered," Crosby said.

Donlan says she found the subtle differences once she had her headphones in her hand but by then it was too late.

"They are just completely misleading people there should be some kind of warning on there or Amazon should be policing this a bit better to make sure these people aren't selling these knock-offs," she said.

For more information on the Counterfeit Report, click here.