Bogus designer handbags, sunglasses and watches have always been big business. But what are the latest items to become hot black-market commodities? Think consumable supplies (print cartridges, and copier toner and developer). The Imaging Supplies Coalition (www.isc-inc.org), a trade association of imaging-supply manufacturers, estimates the counterfeit market for these products has reached a rather shocking $1 billion per year.
Xerox Corp., for one, is taking an aggressive approach to thwarting crooks. To help consumers identify counterfeit supplies, Xerox's Web site (www.xerox.com/supplies) lists high-risk products. And the Imaging Supplies Coalition's "When in doubt, check it out" program invites consumers to send in suspect products to be checked for authenticity.
It's easy to get taken; bogus products often look like the real thing, but you'll soon realize they're inferior. Remember the old adage: If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Ellen Paris is a Washington, DC, writer and former Forbes magazine staff writer.