SHOPPERS looking to snap up festive gifts in the town are being urged to always buy from recognised retailers after rogue traders were caught selling counterfeit perfume.

In the last week alone Bolton Council officers have confronted two sets of unlicensed street traders claiming to be selling brand name scents at a fraction of the retail price.

Cursory tests have shown that these items were potentially dangerous and substandard fakes.

These knock-offs, which have been known to contain harmful chemicals, are often brought in from abroad and branded with counterfeit labels in the UK.

Although they may initially smell the same, the scent of cheap imports quickly evaporates, leaving customers feeling shortchanged.

They are often sold on the street, at car boots and pubs, and increasingly on online auction sites.

Additionally their sellers evade paying tax and counterfeit distribution is often linked to organised crime.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council Trading Standards said: “The Christmas period can be an expensive time for all of us but buying cheap counterfeit perfume could end up costing you more than you bargained for.

“Many of these knock-off products contain dangerous substances that present a serious risk to your health.

“Bogus perfumes can change hands for upwards of £25, less than the cost of the real thing but a considerable amount to pay for a worthless and potentially dangerous product.

“Fake goods also put jobs at risk by undermining the profits of legitimate manufacturers and retailers.

“These scammers often target those who can least afford to part with their hard-earned cash.

“We urge the public to be vigilant and use their common sense. If a deal looks too good to be true, there’s a very real chance it could be a scam. If something smells funny, just walk away.”