A BOOM in the sale of counterfeit goods has resulted in the seizure of more than 70,000 fake products by customs officers since the start of the year.
A growing proportion of the counterfeit items is being bought online and detected at either postal depots or through controlled deliveries to customers.
But large shipments are also being intercepted at ports and airports.
The increasingly lucrative trade in counterfeit goods is reckoned to be costing the economy about €1.2bn a year. And the profits to be made have attracted the attention of organised crime gangs.
A conference attended by 500 delegates from more than 60 countries and co-hosted by Interpol and the garda at Croke Park heard warnings of the consequences of criminal and terrorist networks securing funding through illicit trade and counterfeiting.
Interpol secretary general Ron Noble said: "The risk of relying solely on law enforcement services could be too high for the safety and security of citizens worldwide."
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan underlined the importance of closer co-operation between the public and private sectors in the fight against what he called intellectual property crime and said consumers were being put at risk through the sale of inferior and dangerous goods.
New figures compiled by the customs service show they have made around 4,500 seizures since January and confiscated more than 70,000 fake products with an estimated value of well over €3m.
Counterfeit goods seized included electronic equipment, cosmetics, mobile phone accessories, DVDs, headphones, handbags and purses, clothing, jewellery, sunglasses and games.
One officer said: "At best, fake goods do not deliver the promised results of genuine products; while, at worst, they can seriously injure customers.
"This is true for counterfeit medicines and consumer goods that do not conform to accepted safety standards.
"The goods are often of a poor quality and raise concerns about safety standards, such as electrical goods, car brake pads and aircraft parts.
"Perfumes, cosmetics and household cleaning products may contain unregulated dangerous substances, as may medicines purchased over the internet."
Separate statistics published by Justice Minister Alan Shatter show that between 2011 and 2013, the Revenue and gardai seized 2.75 million litres of fuel, detected 27 fuel laundries and shut down 106 filling stations because they were in breach of licensing conditions.
More than 240 million cigarettes with a retail value of €106m and 20,000kg of tobacco worth €7.38m were also seized.
Customs have made a dozen illicit alcohol seizures so far this year. Counterfeit vodka could be especially dangerous because it usually contains high levels of poisonous methanol.