COUNTERFEIT condoms, lubricated with industrial hand cleaner Swarfega, have been seized by health watchdogs.
The brand, typically used by mechanics to remove engine oil, was reported to have been found on the fakes.
The disturbing discovery was made by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) working with trading standards officials.
It is urging people to be careful about buying condoms and other “medical” products at markets and online, saying the safety, quality and effectiveness of products could be in question.
Fake condoms are just one of a number of bogus goods that will be highlighted at Scotland’s first conference on tackling counterfeiters, which starts in Edinburgh on Thursday.
The Anti Illicit Trade Summit at Murrayfield Stadium will also feature examples of fake abortion pills and erectile dysfunction tablets, as well as bogus dental equipment and CDs that can be almost impossible to tell apart from the real thing.
The MHRA did not provide details of where the fake condoms were seized but senior policy advisor for enforcement, Lynda Scammell, but they included counterfeit Durex.
Fake and faulty sexual disease testing kits have also been found, she added.
Ms Scammell said: “Anecdotal reports have shown that this particular shipment of condoms had been lubricated using Swarfega, the mechanic hand cleanser, so that’s going to hurt.
“It raises questions about whether the rubber will be the right quality and how effective the different chemicals that they’re using are.”
She added: “Perhaps most importantly, it raises questions about controlling the spread of STIs and AIDs.
“The fact is people don’t know what they’re going to get when they buy goods online and we just want them to stop and think about the potential consequences of going for a cheap option instead of going to a registered supplier.”
Ms Scammell said while many scammers were simply copying well established brands others were bringing in genuine items from outside the EU that had not passed the safety tests.
She said: “They’ve not passed the regulations required by EU law so consumers simply do not know what they’re getting.”
Roy Kilpatrick, an independent HIV and AIDS advocate in Edinburgh, said: “One way people can be sure they’re getting genuine, effective condoms would be to get them from the NHS and reputable retailers.
“If they chose to buy them online, check they have a CE mark on them to check they’ve passed EU safety standards.
“The scammers who are using the hand cleanser are probably so unscrupulous that they’d put a fake mark on though so I’d advise people to take advantage of the several condom schemes available across Scotland to stop the spread of HIV.”
The two day conference, organised by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, will see a host of organisations come together to crack down on frauds.
SBRC Director Mandy Haeburn-Little said the Summit will provide a platform to mount a step-change in the fight against illicit trade.
She said: “For the first time, every expert from every field and sector will share their concerns and discuss how best we move forward to reduce the scale, impact and cost of illicit trade in Scotland.
“This is an issue that is of equal importance to the man and woman on the street as well as our business community.
“Everyone loves a bargain. But people need to stop to think about the true cost of fake goods. Can you be confident that those cheap slimming tablets or cut-price drugs are actually safe?”