An investigation by whom? discovered that illegal weapons are being sold by third-party sellers on online marketplaces including AliExpress, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Wish.
UK law, including the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, prohibits the sale of these weapons in the country.
The rules also state that these items cannot even belong to a private household. If a person was caught with one of these products, they could be arrested and sentenced to prison.
“It is disturbing that our latest investigation revealed that illegal weapons are being sold in online marketplaces at extraordinarily low prices and that these tech companies are also selling additional dangerous items to people,” Sue Davies, Chief Protection Officer of consumers at Which? said. “This raises big question marks about the controls and monitoring carried out by these platforms.”
“It is clear that online marketplaces need to take more responsibility and prevent illegal weapons from appearing on their sites.”
Who? said he conducted simple searches for banned offensive weapons on popular online marketplaces, including zombie and flick knives, swords and batons.
On all four platforms, additional prohibited weapons were recommended by the platforms’ algorithms after initial weapon searches by Which?, the consumer group said.
“Worryingly, this suggests that marketplaces not only facilitate the sale of illegal products, but perpetuate the problem by recommending other illegal or dangerous products to users,” Which? said.
Who? said it was easy to find one or more of these life-threatening items on the respective platforms, at affordable prices starting at just 50p.
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Searching AliExpress, he found “a large number of knives, hidden blades and a series of ‘self-defense rings'” designed to be worn like brass knuckles, one of which costs just 49p.
On Amazon Which? found over a dozen ads for friction batons “masked” as “hiking poles”.
It is illegal to buy and sell friction batons, which are considered offensive weapons, in the UK.
According to the band, some of the listings used special characters, such as “bătõň”, in the title or only used the word baton in the artwork.
The consumer group added that it was likely to avoid detection by Amazon, while some of the images on the listings said they could be used for self-defense and fighting.
Which? also uncovered a variety of illegal zombie swords, knives and brass knuckles on eBay, including a 23in Steel Serrated Edge Zombie Knife (£27) and a 27in Zombie Blade with a red fire pattern (£32). EBay’s terms and conditions state that none of these guns should be sold on its platform.
Researchers also found several belt loop knives starting at £8 on Wish, and a number of concealed blades, including a £1 knife designed to be hidden in a wallet.
Amazon and eBay told the group they had removed all listings reported to them by Which?. Wish said it was removing the flagged listings.
Amazon said it would take “appropriate enforcement” against truncheon sellers, eBay said it was investigating why items were not being blocked for UK shoppers and Wish said it was “exploring corrective action against any offending merchant”.
AliExpress said it removed the listings. However, which one? said has received two more promotional emails from AliExpress since his initial response.
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