PERFUME containing urine or pond water are just some of the horrors highlighted by Wycombe counterfeit detectives in the run up to Christmas.

Criminals are busily cashing in on the festive season with thousands of pounds worth of counterfeit goods being produced in sweatshops in Thailand and Pakistan under the orders of people who fund terrorism, gun running and drugs.

According to High Wycombe-based specialists at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) they swamp the market with dangerous or shoddy cut-price goods.

Trading Standards Officers in Cardiff told the group that tests on perfume they seized showed urine was used as a stabiliser for some fake fragrances.

Others had substances in them which could burn or irritate the skin. Handley Brustad, Senior Trading Standards officer at Cardiff County Council, reveals on the ACG website: "With perfume, you really don't know what you're getting.

"We had one bottle of perfume' analysed, and found it to be pondwater with a fragrance added."

However the groups are already cashing in on last Friday's announcement of the World Cup draw. According to the group, the announcement triggered a surge in the production of fake shirts and merchandise which for Euro 2004 sold in markets, boot sales and pubs for about £10 or £15 not much less than the genuine article.

Ruth Orchard, director general of ACG, which, has its secretariat in High Wycombe, said: "Consumers need to appreciate the wider impact of fakes on our society.

"Legitimate traders are hit when fakes undercut their markets, and the black market each year is worth around £9billion, on which the unpaid VAT alone would fund several new schools and hospitals.

"There are proven links between counterfeiting and other serious organised crime.

"In the last five years or so, major criminals have taken control of the global trade in fakes, and use the profits to fund their other activities, such as drugs, guns and people-smuggling.

"Interpol and other intelligence agencies have even found links to terrorism."

She says that at the very least shoppers are destined to be disappointed by the fake football gear because it generally falls apart in the first wash. The Football Association, Premier League clubs and leading sports brands belong to and support ACG.