Consumers are being urged to be aware of fake poppy merchandise being pedalled by fraudsters ahead of Remembrance Day.
The Royal British Legion and the Intellectual Property Office, part of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial strategy, have warned members of the public to be on the lookout for counterfeit goods in the shape or bearing the image of the familiar two-petal red poppy.
Donations are intended to support members of the Armed Forces community and their families, but could end up benefitting fraudsters if the poppy merchandise turns out to be fake.
Bogus goods include scarves, jewellery, poppy pins and larger poppy brooches.
The Royal British Legion has registered its rights for poppy goods to prevent counterfeiting and is urging the public to only buy them through official channels.
Sam Gyimah, intellectual property minister, says: “It is truly shocking that anyone would target and exploit one of the UK’s most cherished charities and take advantage of public support for our Armed Forces community.”
He adds: “Together we can ensure donations go to the people they are intended for, by only supporting approved merchandise. Be vigilant when you are buying your poppies this year and look out for the Royal British Legion logo to ensure the merchandise is approved and genuine.”
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has been targeting suspected sellers by visiting addresses and speaking with people in connection with this crime.
Last year, Border Force officers at Tilbury intercepted a shipment of poppy merchandise intended for the UK worth in the region of £150,000.
Claire Rowcliffe, director of fundraising, from The Royal British Legion, says: “It is a sad fact that there are people who actively defraud the public in order to take funds intended for the support of our Armed Forces community. We would urge everyone wishing to purchase a Remembrance poppy brooch, to do so through official channels.”
She adds: “For example, you can buy from one of our trusted volunteers, from The Royal British Legion’s online Poppy Shop, or from one of our corporate partners. We want to make sure that it goes to supporting those who have made such a unique contribution to our society.”
How to spot fake poppy merchandise
Here are the top tips to avoid buying fake poppy merchandise online.
1) Only buy from official channels and The Royal British Legion’s corporate partners.
2) Avoid cheaper priced products - if the price is too good to be true it probably is.
3) The Royal British Legion works with a number of corporate partners. Only corporate partners are authorised by the Royal British Legion to sell poppy merchandise.
4) If in doubt, buy through The Royal British Legion or The Royal British Legion official eBay or Amazon pages to be sure of the authenticity.
What to do if you think you’ve spotted fake poppy merchandise
Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or report it online if you spot anyone selling what you believe to be fake poppy products.