The heightened demand for Sony and Nintendo's handheld consoles has led to a surge in counterfeit models hitting the UK shores.

Customs officials are warning that using these consoles could go beyond mere disappointment when they break, with electrocution or combustion a real possibility.

These consoles are available from the web, in particular auction sites, as shoppers search for the out-of-stock items.

Customs recently seized a large amount of Nintendo DS consoles intended for the UK, with untested chargers which pose a lethal threat.

Nikes to Nintendo

"Across the EU the rise in counterfeit electronics is growing very rapidly, it was barely on the radar until very recently. It used to be fake Nikes and Gucci, but now we're seeing fake PSPs and high-end iPod-style MP3 players more often," said a spokesperson for HMRC.

"Many of these consoles have been confirmed by Nintendo to be fake, while the rest are designed for the Japanese market, where controls are far less rigorous."

The best idea is to make sure each item comes from a reputable retailer when ordering off the web, or even on the high street, and make sure the item looks genuine; i.e. covered in cellophane with official manuals and accessories.