The HM Revenue & Customs service has put out warnings about a slew of pirated DS hardware that's apparently been coming into the country.
Hundreds of imported counterfeit games consoles seized at UK freight depots were found to have been supplied with potentially dangerous power adaptors. The goods had been purchased from a range of websites, mainly based in Asia, which claimed the items were "genuine Nintendo products."
Many of the consoles, which are fake versions of Nintendo DS and DS Lite had been bought for around £40.
"UK consumers must be vigilant when purchasing goods online. Buy from a reputable or regulated site and, if purchasing from outside the UK or a new website, research the site – check all the facts before you buy," explains HMRC's Head of Intellectual Property rights Pamela Rogers.
"At best, these consoles would have led to disappointment on Christmas morning; at worst, they could have caused serious harm or injury. Counterfeit goods also cause considerable damage the UK economy by undermining genuine UK retailers and small businesses who are honest and abide by the rules."
It seems as though the safety concerns over the power supplies stem from the fact that they're not electronically tested to UK standards, though the piracy issue is definitely of greater concern.
Mike Rawlinson, managing director for the trade body of the UK game's industry ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), comments
"We are asking all concerned parents to be diligent – often when a bargain seems too good to be true it actually is. We would also like to thank HMRC for their role in swiftly alerting all UK ports to be on their guard for similar counterfeit goods coming into the country.
"As a responsible industry we are also extremely committed to ending the damaging counterfeit games market, which not only defrauds UK tax payers with inferior products but in some cases actually puts children's lives at risk too. This is an issue that affects all retail businesses, particularly at Christmas, and more needs to be done to work together to mitigate the risks posed by fake goods.
"We are also continuing to work very closely with Trading Standards Officers on this important safety issue and we also want to thank them for their diligence."
It's hard not to raise a cynical eyebrow at phrases such as 'a responsible industry', however. ELSPA's comments actually highlight a difficulty that these console-shopping parents – who typically aren't as aware what they're buying in a jargon-saturated market – suffer from when manufacturers continually imply, and even are accused of deliberately causing, product shortages on the run up to Christmas.
When a website offers a solution that Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others are unwilling to provide, it's hard to blame those parents for taking the chance at not disappointing their kids come Christmas morning.
Keeping a diligent eye peeled is always good advice, of course – we just recommend that eye is sometimes turned towards those big companies who appear to indirectly support the piracy industry through their own greed and attempts to play the consumers against the retailers. There, we've said it.