INTERNET sales are set to peak tomorrow on 'Mega Monday' - the busiest online shopping day.

But Cumbria Trading Standards and Crimestoppers are warning consumers about the risk of buying counterfeit Christmas presents.

Forecasters expect online spending to top £10 billion this December for the first time ever – up 15% on last year.

However, one in five shoppers mistakenly bought fake goods last year, say officials.

More than 8,000 sites have been identified as selling counterfeit copies of designer brands like Gucci, Adidas and Mulberry.

Every year, UK Border Agency seizes counterfeit goods coming into the country and innocent consumers lose their hard earned cash.

People can use the Brand-I website to make sure you don’t waste your money on fakes. Visit

Trading Standards officials suggest that by following these simple tips you can keep fraudsters at bay this Christmas:

1. Only deal with reputable online retailers you know and trust.

2. If the goods cost over £100 consider using a credit card as this will give you additional protection if things go wrong. but only use a credit card if you can afford the repayments.

3. Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to believe then there is usually a catch.

4. Ensure the payment system is secure – there should be a padlock symbol on the bottom right of the page and the website address should begin with “https”.

5. Check the URL in the web browser. Don’t be fooled by spoof websites where the fraudsters slightly change the address.

6. Conduct a “who is “search online which will tell you where a website is registered. If the website is registered abroad it may be difficult or impossible to claim compensation from the seller.

Angela Jones, Cumbria County Council’s Trading Standards Service Manager, said: “If you buy fake goods you are helping a trader to break the law and many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling fake goods to fund drug dealing or other types of serious organised crime.

“Counterfeit goods are usually poor quality and may be unsafe as fraudsters do not often comply with strict quality standards or safety checks. You might think you are getting a bargain, but we have received complaints about counterfeit electrical goods containing unsafe wiring that could lead to overheating, creating a risk of fire, electrocution or personal injury.”

Gary Murray, of Crimestoppers said “Many people are unaware that most internet fraud and fake goods sold on market stalls or in pubs are linked to serious and organised crime groups. If a bargain is too good to be true then the chances are it is a fraud or a scam.

"I would encourage the public that if they have information on this criminal activity to contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”