Counterfeit products damage the consumer's pocket and health


Source: Indebted - Porto Alegre / RS - 17/08/2010

The Fantástico team traveled all the way from piracy: from the factory to the shelves of popular markets. It is R $ 40 billion that Brazil loses every year because of the illegal industry. A laboratory test proves that counterfeiting also harms your consumer health.

Our reporters show what are the ways that importers use to circumvent the inspection and bring illegal products to the country at prices below the market. To show unpublished images of the pirates in action, we entered a clandestine watch factory.

In a workshop in Cidade do Leste, Paraguay, seven men produce 30 watches a month. The marks? The most famous in the world.

“Here we receive orders from Brazilians who come from São Paulo to pick up. We make the brand he wants, ”says one of the men at the factory.

All parts are imported from China and stop at Brazilian ports. Then, they are transported by truck to Paraguay. By agreement signed between the two countries, Brazil cannot inspect the cargo.

"The pieces come separately, both the dial, the hands, the crowns, the boxes and the bracelets, everything comes", explains the owner of the factory.

The process is handmade. Made by people specialized in the craft, with precision. It is possible to observe how delicate the moment of pasting the brand is.

The factory owner, who prefers not to be identified, receives a dollar per assembled watch, just for labor. At the end of the month, it collects the equivalent of R $ 54 thousand.

"Why is the editing done in Paraguay and not in Brazil?" Asks the reporter.

"I think it is because it is cheaper here, the labor is cheaper and inspection is also less", replies the owner of the factory.

Once packed, the watches are passed on to the so-called middlemen, who cross the border.

“You have to cross the bridge, there are some who cross the river”, explains one of them.
The police and the IRS designed the route for pirated products. From Foz do Iguaçu the goods are taken to São Paulo, where they are distributed throughout Brazil.

In São Paulo, reporters find watches similar to those produced in Paraguay. Last year alone, the IRS seized R $ 46 million in contraband watches.

Another popular product in downtown São Paulo is the toothbrush. To the naked eye, they are the same as the originals, even on the packaging. Pirates have a technique to conquer the market: they even mix fake brushes with real ones.

“The people of pharmacies do this: they buy a little bit of one and a little bit of the other, then mix it up and leave. The people are not suspicious, they are just like that ”, says the trader.

A dealer explains how the fraud works. The secret is in the detail of the counterfeiting: “the important thing, today, to see Oral B is to have the barcode. If you have the barcode, it’s gone ”.

Like watches, there are Chinese brushes that arrive in Brazil via Paraguay. In Cidade do Leste, our team finds a supplier. It confirms that the product is fake.

“She is the first line, she is a perfect replica, she comes from Brazil. But the original has not. They are all Chinese, ”says the seller.

We took the brushes for a test in the laboratory of the Brazilian Dental Association and the conclusion is that they are a health risk. The bristles have a bad finish.

"They are small blades, which you will notice, that will come into contact and cut the gum.", Explains Heitor Panzeri, of the Brazilian Dental Association.

In addition to the replica of the original brand, the seller also presents another option: “there is one that is similar to Oral B, it has the same design. It just changes the name, ”says a dealer.

There is the industrial copy, a more sophisticated way of circumventing the inspection and deceiving the consumer.

“It is the sophistication of counterfeiting. It is not falsifying the brand, but it falsifies the product. The industrial design of the product is being falsified ”, explains Edson Luiz Vismona, from the National Forum Against Piracy.

Seu Chadi, the baron of toothbrushes Juliana. Owner of the largest distributor in the Eastern City. He says his product is made at the Colgate and Oral B factory in China.

The brushes are blatant copies of the models of the main brands in the Brazilian market. Chadi tries to convince reporters that his product is better than any replica.

According to an investigation by a market intelligence office, which defends the brands that created the original models, Chadi moves US $ 6 million a month, dumping two million brushes in Brazil.

In São Paulo, the Juliana brush is a success. Juliana, who was never certified by the Brazilian Dentistry Association, also failed the Brazilian Dentistry Association test.

The Brazilian Association of Pharmacies and Drugstores says it is unaware of the sale of pirated toothbrushes. In Juliana's packaging, the counterfeiting is so crude that even the Portuguese language is disrespected.

An even greater health hazard is counterfeit drugs.
“Nobody buys a drug knowing that it is fake. There it can have implications, for sure it will have, on people's health ”, warns Heitor Panzeri.

In Cidade do Leste, reporters from Fantástico find remedies for erectile dysfunction. The seller denies that they are counterfeit. But the tax authority says that Paraguay does not manufacture this type of medicine.

“Certainly, 100% of the impotence products are from China. Paraguay has neither the elements nor the industry to finalize these products ”, informs Julio Garay, of the Brazilian Association to Combat Counterfeiting.

The Pramil remedy that the seller offers is not legalized in Brazil. But it is easily found in Rio, São Paulo and other capitals.

The seller also facilitates the delivery: “Pramil is the one that takes the most. Wholesale is $ 2,90. Do you have MSN? ”Asks the saleswoman again.

We are monitoring an operation by the Federal Highway Police in Foz do Iguaçu. In one of the first buses inspected, the agents find drugs for sexual impotence.

“We have already had seizures of 140, 150 thousand pills of this type. This happens a lot, bus passengers, cars taking small amounts, a thousand pills, this is constant ”, says Marcos Pierre, inspector of the Federal Highway Police.

Smuggling drugs is a heinous crime, the same as drug trafficking. The penalty is ten to 15 years in prison.

We took the drugs to the pharmacology laboratory at Unicamp. The researchers found that they even have the same active ingredient as the originals, but that does not guarantee that they will have an effect.

"The fact of having the same amount of active ingredient in the pill does not imply that it is absorbed", says Gilberto de Nucci, professor of pharmacology at Unicamp.
Counterfeit drugs are usually found outside the boxes.

“The sale of the so-called Blister is prohibited. You will not find this product in a regular sale, cool that way. It will only be found in boxes ”, warns Heitor Panzeri.

The president of the National Forum Against Piracy and Illegality gives a hint: only buy medicines with sealed packaging and that have the so-called reactive ink on the side.

"All medications have to have this reactive ink, when you pass the coin you will find the manufacturer's brand of the medication with the word quality", he says.
During the Federal Highway Police blitz, parts for cell phones were also seized. Disassembling the product is a technique used by smugglers. It is a way to evade inspection and evade taxes.

To understand how this fraud works, reporters from Fantástico pretended to be merchants interested in reselling a video game brought from China. They made an appointment with the representative of the Baska Group, one of the largest Brazilian importers.

The representative consults the import table and concluded that to import the electronic game, the IRS would charge a 20% import tax and 40% taxes on industrialized products - the IPI - on the price of the product. It then proposes an alternative to reduce taxes.

“There are customers who disassemble the part. Then the tax classification is different. While you receive 40% of IPI disassembled it will only be 15% or 10%, which is a very big reduction ”, says the representative.

“It is also not possible. Following this same international agreement that Brazil is a signatory, the product comes assembled or to be assembled, complete or incomplete, unfinished or not, it has the same tax classification ”.

The representative suggests yet another way to import the game with reduced taxes: change the product description.

“We can find another tax classification for the video game and in this classification there will be lower taxes. For example: I have a customer who is going to start selling an electronic bible in Santa Catarina. So they import a mp5 from China and we do a study of what the tax classification for that could be. Also because it has GPS and I don't know what else to do. His import tax was zero ”, says the representative.

That is, it was zero, because the company claimed to the IRS that it was importing bibles. And bibles are tax exempt in Brazil. The reporters question the scheme, but the importer's representative insists it is safe.

"No, no. Because that's how I'm telling you: this research that we do is not at all illegal. My director will find a classification that fits the video game, it is not something like: 'I will put the video game as if it were television'. Is not it. It is because as there are many items and technical things, there is an item there that has three tax classifications '', explains the employee.

But the IRS says this is a fraud. Each product only fits a tax classification.

During the conversation, the representative admits yet another illegality. She says she can import pirated products. In this case, the Chinese video game to be ordered is a fake copy of another very popular one in Brazil.

“Taxing a pirated product is the same as taxing any type of drug that enters the country”, warns Márcio Gonçalves, specialist and intellectual property.

“There is a clear deviation in conduct in this trade, and that we have to alert the authorities. Because, in addition to tax evasion, they are products that can affect the health and safety of consumers ”, explains Heitor.

The president of the Baska group, Luiz Ramos, says that he does not guide the company's employees to turn in this way: “this person spoke without any authorization from the company without any knowledge, Seuqre, of the company. I would say that nobody is aware of this fact ”.

Worldwide, piracy generates about US $ 600 billion a year. Almost double the money that goes around selling drugs. In Brazil, the loss to the national economy is estimated at R $ 40 billion per year. And two million jobs cease to exist.

And if you still have doubts about whether it is worth buying pirated products, check out this dialogue:

A salesperson turns an unbranded drill into one of the market leaders.
“It is original, but not from Bosch. The machine is original, good quality. It is a drill and screwdriver ”, says the seller. "I have the seal here, you can put the seal on it," he continues. “You can take it and put it there. Everything is white and just put it there`,