Over 4 700 inspections were carried out across 24 countries between 19 October 2020 and 31 January 2021 in order to detect the illegal shipment and storage of counterfeit toys, writes Europol.
So far, 11 fraudsters have been arrested, with investigations ongoing in a number of countries to dismantle the criminal networks putting child safety at risk. This is the first operation ever organised on such a scale targeting the sale of counterfeit toys. The confiscated pieces were almost exact copies of the real products and were extremely hard to distinguish.
However, in almost all of the cases, the seized toys posed a serious health risk for children. These fake toys had not been subjected to the rigorous safety tests required by law and had no warnings or advice on the packaging. Examples include 2 800 dolls seized in Italy and 8 000 toy cars seized in Belgium which posed a choking hazard, more than 5 000 plastic toys seized in Spain which contained a toxic chemical that could damage children health and several other electronic devices confiscated in various countries which exceeded legal decibel limits for toys which could permanently damage a child’s hearing.
A total of 1 175 toys destined for infants were also confiscated in Romania after failing to include essential information on the packaging to prevent a child getting injured, such as an age label, instructions for use and a list of materials they contain. Commenting on this operation, Europol’s Executive Director Catherine de Bolle said: “This operation shows yet again that criminals will take advantage of any and every opportunity open to them to make a profit. During the festive period, criminals cash in on the surge in demand of certain toys by selling dangerous toys to unsuspecting shoppers.
Thanks to Operation LUDUS, we have successfully taken out of circulation millions of toys which were not only unsafe but ripped off legitimate brands.”Europol and its partners urge consumers to resist cheap offers that look too good to be true, particularly if certain toys are sold out in well-known retailers, as this could be a sign that they are fake, unsafe or of poor quality. It is just not worth the risk. .
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