FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF THE TRADE IN COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
With colleagues from Teesside University (Georgios A. Antonopoulos (PI), Jo Large and Anqi Shen), Durham University (Mike Crang) and the UK National Trading Standards e-Crime Team (NTSeCT), I recently secured funding from the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS), an initiative of the Research Councils UK, to undertake a cross-disciplinary exploratory project on the financing of the trade in counterfeit goods. This follows previous and ongoing projects I am involved in as a researcher exploring themes including the changing nature of the British Pakistani honour and shame complex, the online trade in illicit medicines, the financing of ‘organised crime’, and the production and consumption of illicit enhancement drugs and pharma-cosmetics.
The trade in counterfeit goods is growing and is closely linked to transnational organised crime. Much work and popular scrutiny has examined flows of counterfeit goods. Less often scrutinised are the financial mechanisms that enable them. This exploratory study aims to investigate the financing of the trade in counterfeit goods. It will address the connection of often legitimate finance with the business of trading counterfeits – from how consumers pay for them, to how illicit traders move money along the value chain. The study covers the UK context, whilst also considering the distinctly transnational nature of the trade. The transnational focus of the project is on trade with the People’s Republic of China - the dominant manufacturing force in the global economy and a major source of counterfeits. The project will explore how licit and illicit businesses and financial flows between UK-China are implicated in the transnational organisation of the counterfeit trade. Another particular area of exploration will be the increasingly significant role played by ICTs in counterfeit markets and their financing. Not only is the trade in counterfeit goods facilitated by digital technologies, so is its financing with digital payments. The project brings together a team of academics from the social sciences (criminology and sociology) and the humanities (law and geography), with practitioners from NTSeCT. The team will adopt a mixed methods approach including content analysis, digital geohumanities techniques and ethnographic methods.