Illegal weapons are sold in online stores, including Amazon and eBay, for as little as 49 cents, an investigation has revealed.
Zombie knives, knuckledusters, and even swords are among the items available through third-party sellers on the websites, consumer group Which? found it.
The study – which also looked at Wish and AliExpress shopping sites – has raised concerns about how online retailers check gun lists during a knife crime epidemic in Britain.
Under UK law it is illegal to sell or possess most weapons, with adults facing up to four years in prison and an unlimited fine if caught carrying them.
But which? investigators found dozens of banned weapons listed online. On Amazon, the group found dangerous friction-lock batons listed as “trekking sticks” or with missing letters in the name — in what were believed to be checks evasion attempts.
On Wish, researchers found a large number of illegal paring knives and butterfly knives – blades that fold out to a point
On AliExpress, the watchdog found a jackknife for just £2.83
On eBay, the group found a 23-inch steel zombie knife for £27 and a 27-inch zombie knife for £32.
One seller even offered a karambit knife – a curved blade – and a ‘stunning spray’ in a combo deal for £13.99.
Which? said none of these weapons should be for sale under eBay’s terms and conditions.
The largest selection of weapons was found on AliExpress, which is based in China, and the American site Wish. Searches using the terms ‘clipping blade’, ‘auto-opening blade’ and ‘spring-assisted blade’ yielded dozens of results, many for less than £10.
On Wish, researchers found a large number of illegal paring knives and butterfly knives – blades that fold out to a point.
On AliExpress, the watchdog found a knife for just £2.83 and a ‘self-defense ring’ – which is designed to be worn as brass knuckles – costing just 49 cents.
Researchers said the algorithms on all four websites recommended more banned weapons after their initial searches.
Sue Davies, which one? head of consumer protection policy, called on platforms to “take more responsibility and prevent illegal weapons from appearing on their sites.”
She added: “It is alarming that our latest research has found that illegal weapons are being sold in online marketplaces at extremely cheap prices and that these tech companies are also pushing extra dangerous items to people.
‘This raises major questions about the controls and monitoring by these platforms.’
One seller even offered a karambit knife – a curved blade – and a ‘stunning spray’ in a combo deal for £13.99
Richard Carr, a police lecturer at John Moores University in Liverpool, said: ‘From a moral point of view, I’m amazed that websites sell these kinds of products. If these kinds of weapons get into the hands of people with criminal intentions, the outcome could be catastrophic.’
Last year, the Office for National Statistics recorded 41,000 offenses involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales. London also saw a record 30 teenage murders, most by knives.
Amazon, eBay and AliExpress said they had removed all listings reported to them by Which? Wish said it is in the process of removing items flagged by the consumer group.
AliExpress said it has “strict guidelines” regarding the sale of knives, such as age checks. An eBay spokesperson said it was investigating why customers were not being “blocked” from purchasing the weapons.
Wish said some merchants had “found a way to circumvent existing security systems” and Amazon added that it was “taking appropriate enforcement against the bad actors involved.”