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Counterfeit Cosmetics: What are you really getting with a bargain

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Who doesn't like a bargain? But what price are you willing to pay?  Would you risk your health?

Investigators with Homeland Security say counterfeit cosmetics are poisoning Americans and our economy.

There are bargain sites for everything on the internet these days even makeup. One website lists namebrands at deep discounts. For example, an Urban Decay brow box for $14.99.

Tthat's half the cost of what is listed on the website for well known make up store Sephora.

On eBay there are pages of postings, they all say 100% authentic, but there's something you should know before you click. "You may be literally poisoning yourself over time," said Joe Ortega with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Agent Joe Ortega says seized counterfeit products have tested positive for a range of toxins. "We've found things such as arsenic, lead and as you know that's not very good for you," he said.

The poisins, Ortega says, are used as fillers for coloring.  "They'll use anything, obviously they have no standard for making them," he said.

Homeland Security investigates counterfeiters under its National Intellectual Property Rights Center.  On one website we found, a seller when questioned if a mac product was authentic, responded with "replica".

Counterfeit products are not only found online. Agents have seized them at flea markets, mall kiosks and stores.  A New Jersey woman was recently prosecuted for counterfeit makeup sales when a customer told Homeland Security she got a rash on her eyelid within minutes of using the product.

Dermatologist Dayna Diven has several concerns. "The skin on your face absorbs things differently than anywhere else on your body. Especially the skin around your eyes, it's the thinnest skin on our body. It could cause acne on your face, dermatitis or exema or scaling. Theoretically you can absorb through your skin too," said Diven.
    
If you think that is bad, Ortega says fake fragrances have been found to contain human urine. Homeland security says the top violators are China, Hong Kong, Jordan locations that Ortega says make the products with child labor.

And yet another trend to be aware of are counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Some pills investigators are finding were made of sheet rock.  To report counterfeit violations go to the National Intellectual Property Rights Center at www.iprcenter.gov

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