Travelers to Europe could face criminal charges for buying fake designer products.

Tourists in Italy and France could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even jailed, for buying knockoff items, lawyers are warning.

The countries have recently introduced tougher penalties for both the sellers and buyers of counterfeit goods.

In France those caught buying fake designer clothes, sunglasses, sports gear, handbags and watches could end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines or be sentenced to three years in prison.

The clampdown on the continent comes amid growing concern over the involvement of international criminal gangs in the fake designer black market.

Intellectual property lawyer Simon Tracey said: "The problem is, it is an intellectual theft, so therefore it's much harder to explain to people that it is wrong, but in reality — as a matter of social responsibility — it is just as bad as stealing."

Click here for more on this story from the Times of London.