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New App Allows Consumers To Report Suspected Counterfeit Products To Companies

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- You see them all over the city -- fake handbags, fake clothes, and fake electronics. What if you could play a bigger role in helping to report counterfeit goods?

Well, now there's an app for that.

CBS 2's Andrea Grymes got a look at an assortment of pillows, T-shirts, cellphone covers and Snap bracelets on Thursday. They all had one thing in common.

They were counterfeit, according to intellectual property attorney Jason Drangel.

"People have dubbed it a $1.5 trillion business worldwide," Drangel said.

Drangel said it's a massive problem that's tough to squash, but garners lots of complaints.

That's why he came up with a new, free app called "uFaker." It's a database that lets consumers help crack down on counterfeit goods.

"A lot of times consumers are interested in helping out with this type of thing, but they don't know where to go," Drangel said.

Here's how it works: If you find a product that you think might be a fake -- like maybe a bag -- all you do is snap a picture of it. Then you upload that picture, along with information about the product and where you found, it to the app, Grymes reported.

That information then gets forwarded to the brand so they can launch their own investigation.

Grymes used an Angry Birds toy as an example. Drangel pointed out that it was real. It had the product's makeup and labeling. However, he said a similar one was a fake.

"It says 'Made in China.' There's no info on what it's made out of," Drangel said.

And that, he warned, is one of the biggest problems with fake merchandise -- you have no idea if the contents will harm you.

Intellectual property attorney Maria Savio at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman said she believes the app will help raise awareness.

"I think what the app does is it makes it very convenient for a consumer who sees a bag, for example, to report it," Savio said.

So, would you try it?

"I'm a student. I like cheap things," consumer Delilah Cruz said, adding that she would not use the app.

"Yeah, why not? If it's on the smartphone, it's easy to get," another person said.

And easy to use.

Consumers who upload pictures will also get an email from uFaker with web discounts as a reward. The app is available now for iPhone users and will be available next week on Android.

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