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Everyday counterfeits

Federal investigators seized 150 web sites last week on Cyber Monday, alleging they sold counterfeit goods including handbags and medications. But counterfeiters are branching out into other goods that might be harder for shoppers to spot. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com tells you what to watch out for.

Counterfeiters have faked drugstore brands shampoos, as well as fancy salon shampoos. They might just be water and thickener, but some fakes have been found with cleaning chemicals and heavy metals. Check the labels carefully for differences, and be especially cautious buying salon-only brands elsewhere.

Batteries are one of the more dangerous fakes. Many are created without the usual vent that allows built-up heat to escape. Without it -- boom! Fakes may explode, damaging the device they are in and causing fires or injuries. Consider it good reason to buy batteries only from big, well-known retailers.

Counterfeiters spend their money making perfume bottles look right, so what's in it is anybody's guess -- often, household cleaners and human urine. It can result in skin rashes and irritation. Flimsy packaging is a telltale sign, but shoppers may also want to spritz the scent on something else first, to see if it smells right.

Fake toys haven't been tested to ensure they are age appropriate and safe. They may also include dangerous materials, like lead. Pay attention to recalls - toy manufacturers will often alert consumers if there are fakes of one of their popular items making the rounds. It's also worth knowing what's age-appropriate for your child to do an inspection yourself.

Counterfeit toothpaste is not something you want in your mouth. Fake toothpaste often contains antifreeze and other chemicals, and may be contaminated with bacteria, too. A bad seal on the tube can be a warning sign. Pay attention to differences in taste and consistency, too.

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