The shocking warning comes from Lincolnshire Trading Standards after a recent raid of Eastgate Market in Ingoldmells uncovered a large quantity of counterfeit clothing and footwear.
Teaming up with Lincolnshire Police and members of the UK’s Anti-Counterfeiting Group, trading standards officers seized thousands of fake items, which could have been used to fund terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Although concrete evidence linking the two is limited, anecdotal evidence is mounting and experts are becoming increasingly concerned. Just last year it was revealed that one of the terrorists involved in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris had been involved in the trading of counterfeit trainers and cigarettes.
Emma Beckett, senior trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Many people think that the trade of counterfeit goods is a victimless crime but that’s really not the case. We’ve always known that they risk human safety, negatively affect genuine businesses and the wider economy, but increasingly there are concerns over where the money generated by these goods goes.
“No honest person would willingly give money to fund organised crime, but from drugs and guns to people smuggling and terrorism, that’s exactly what you could be doing when you buy fakes – you just never know where your money will end up.”
Superintendent Mark Housley, county officer public protection, added: “You may think the idea that fake goods bought on a local market could be funding terrorism is far-fetched but more and more anecdotal evidence is pointing in this direction.
“People have to recognise that these are not just one-off stall holders in your local market. They are buying these goods from international traders who are organised in committing this crime and are usually involved in other types of crime as well.
“We may not be able to put a complete stop to organised crime and terrorism, but by saying no to counterfeit goods we can make sure we are not helping to support them.”
• If you have any suspicions or concerns about illegal or counterfeit items being sold in your community, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.