The Department of Economic Development building, which also houses the Dubai Land Department and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai has found out that social media has been widely used to push illicit trade in fake goods. The DED has warned people to be more aware about their rights and duties.

The department has found that the Facebook, Instagram and Blackberry messengers have been used to sell and buy counterfeit goods as the illegal activity moves away from the high street and on to online outlets.

More than 12,000 fake items for designer-branded items have been seized by the DED including handbags, leather items, watches, accessories, perfumes, cosmetic products and clothing.

Ebrahim Bahzad, Director of Intellectual Property Department at DED, said: “Some traders have used social media to target customers and sell them counterfeit products. We have confiscated a number of retailers in the market and others who don’t have DED licencing for commercial activates for selling fake items for international designers.”

DED says it raided two villas, one in Mirdif and another in Al Jafiliya, that were used as showrooms for selling counterfeit products.

“These residential places have been utterly transformed into showrooms, exactly set up as a shop floor selling fake items by targeting their customers via social media,” Bahzad said.

DED used members of their female inspection team who work undercover to attend suspect locations.

“DED has a special team to electronic monitoring that watch over online illicit trade and marketing activities,” Bahzad said.

Counterfeits goods are not only of poor quality but sometimes can be dangerous. Bahzad said: “People who are involved in such illegal practices are not violating the intellectual property law but they are causing losses of millions for manufacturers and retailers as well.”

He also urged consumer to cooperate with DED to curb these illicit trade in Dubai by reporting about similar incidents by calling Ahlan Dubai on 600545555 or via twitter @dubai_consumers.

“Consumers should be more aware about their rights and duty,” Bahzad said.