A new hand-held microscope camera called Entrupy has been developed to scan designer leather handbags to ascertain their authenticity. Spotting counterfeits has traditionally been a painstaking task involving counting stitches and studying grain and print patterns, but the Entrupy can be used by anyone and reveals the answer in minutes.

Since launching a year ago, the company says its accuracy for 11 brands including Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton has topped 98 per cent. Although designers are expected to invest more than $6 billion in anti-counterfeit technology such as micro printing and holographic tags, the explosion of online retail and second-hand dealers makes the trade in fakes harder to fight.

“Even ten years ago, a woman going to buy a second-hand bag would know very well that Chanel, Gucci and Prada don’t sell on the street corner,” said Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University in New York. “But now, with so much legitimate and illegitimate commerce occurring online, it is very difficult for consumers to tell the difference.” The Entrupy, which plugs into a smartphone, can be leased for an initial fee of $299. Monthly plans start from $99.