It's a problem that has exploded - as more and more people do just about everything online these days.  The number of websites selling counterfeit products has dramatically increased in the past couple of years - causing serious problems for people all over Jersey and across the country.

Fred Felman, the Chief Marketing Officer for MarkMonitor, a brand protection firm says, "whether it be shoes or purses or pharmaceuticals or electronics or almost any software - it's all available to you online."

He says there can be direct health and safety issues with anything you purchase online that is illegitimate, and, "the product itself might be made of materials are toxic to you or your children …even with shoes for that matter - they may be painted with lead-based paints…I'd be quite concerned about anything that looks suspicious online."

He says if you just do a search online and look for "inexpensive- and name the drug, or cheap and name that drug - you're probably going to be led to a pharmacy that is illegitimate - if you look for a very low price…and you'll see all kinds of drugs but there are plenty of potential problems, since you don't know the quality, or the purity - in the case of a drug - of the good that you're getting- and you're likely to be disappointed…and because they're an illegitimate business, you don't know how they're going to be handling your personal information including your credit card data."

Felman adds this has become such a huge problem because "it's very easy for someone to mount a store online - steal the photographs and the text ,the other data from legitimate sites and present it in a relatively professional way."

He says one way for consumers to protect themselves "is to use channels that they're familiar with when purchasing goods - search for sales on legitimate websites…look for some of the pharmaceutical companies deals that they have on acquiring drugs - sometimes they have special offers with your doctor- to actually get a good deal on your prescription - sometimes they even offer support for people who are lower income, or out of work or disadvantaged…there are legitimate ways to get inexpensive goods and seek those opportunities, rather than seeking ones from sites that actually look dubious."

Felman points out "counterfeit goods are coming from all over the world - including China, India, South America, but they are also being made in Europe and the United States."