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Evidently last year a 3,707,940 fake products were stopped from entering the country, an increase from just 857,772 in 2000.
The situation is getting worse with complaints to the advice service Consumer Direct up almost 50% on last years figures.
None of the pieces seem quite sure what the search engines should do about it though. To me, most of the issue centers around paid search as it's very easy to set up a site quickly and promote it in order to rip people off.
Obviously, the search engines should stop any adverts and blacklist the sites as soon as it becomes apparent that a site is not what it seems. But even that's difficult to do - who has the right to have a site blacklisted? who will take responsibility for the decision? who'll be responsible for the restraint of trade action when it turns out the website isn't really dealing in fake goods?
I'd like to suggest that the answer lies with consumers, they should be more careful about where they buy. Branded goods on Ebay shipped from China are likely to be fakes. Branded goods promoted through paid search at very cheap prices are likely to be fakes.
The best thing consumers could do though is rely more on natural search results. It takes time to build natural results something many of the scam sites don't have.
It would be great to see the consumer advice services putting out this type of message - we have "safe sex" campaigns why not "safe search" promotions. I think this will have a much more positive effect than trying to get businesses like Google to restrict their trade and revenues.