News item

£4.2 million worth of fake goods seized at market

Simon Cripwell with seized fake goodsWarwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Warwickshire Police are warning consumers to beware of lethal fake goods following a joint raid on Wellesbourne market on Saturday 14th December which led to the seizure of £4.2 million worth of counterfeit goods to add to the £3.1 million seized in September.

This is the second major swoop on Wellesbourne Market in the last 3 months following concerns raised by legitimate market traders and members of the public about the ongoing level of criminal activity at the site. 

Not only do the profits from the sale of counterfeits go to finance other criminal activity and make life harder for legitimate traders, tests done on fakes seized from an earlier raid in September revealed some of the goods to be downright dangerous. 

Of most concern were a number of counterfeit electrical items, including counterfeit GHD hairdryers and straighteners on sale to bargain hunters searching for Christmas gifts for loved ones. Tests revealed these items had potentially lethal safety defects. 

Fake GHD hairdryers when tested caught fire due to the absence of any thermal cut out. Other fake electrical items tested had used wiring that was so thin it could melt in use – risking fire or electrocution. The appliances were also fitted with ‘fake’ fuses that were of such poor quality that even if they blew they might continue to conduct electricity.  In other words even if the product caught fire the item would not cut itself off. 

The 14th of December raid was carried out in a joint operation involving Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and Warwickshire Police. Six arrests were made relating to the supply and possession of counterfeit goods and £3,000 was seized under the proceeds of crime act, together with counterfeit goods valued at £4.2m. December’s raid eclipsed September’s raid in terms of the value of goods seized. 

Items included suspected fake clothing, perfumes and electrical products with brand names including Adidas, Superdry, Chanel and dr dre.

Trading Standards Officers strongly advise consumers not to use any electrical goods they suspect to be counterfeit and certainly not give them as Christmas presents to loved ones. 

Traders and consumers wishing to report sellers of counterfeit goods can do so by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506

Janet Faulkner, Head of Warwickshire Trading Standards said: 
“This latest joint operation means that we have now seized over £7m worth of counterfeit clothing, perfumes and electrical items in the past 3 months.”

“We are extremely concerned that someone could be seriously injured or killed by these dangerous fakes.”

“Traders in fake goods are warned that we will continue launch these joint operations to clear the markets of fake goods.”

“Those caught dealing in counterfeit goods not only risk losing the goods, but may also face losing assets such as vehicles and even their homes if they cannot prove that they were purchased from legitimate income. In addition, the maximum penalty for dealing in counterfeit goods is ten years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.” 

“We will not hesitate to use all enforcement options available against those who continue to flout the law.”

Inspector Lucy Sewell of the Operational Patrol Unit, said "Counterfeit and copied goods are bad for legitimate businesses, bad for consumers and bad for the economy." 

“This was a well co-ordinated operation between sixteen Warwickshire & West Mercia Police Specials, five Warwickshire Police Regular Officers, and six Trading Standards officers.”  
“The Operation is part of a co-ordinated campaign against the sale of a wide range of counterfeit goods in the county and we continue to use the Proceeds of Crime Act, which resulted in £3000 in cash being seized.”  

"This is not the first time we have targeted operations at markets. This latest action should send out a clear message to all those trading in counterfeit goods that we will catch you and you risk not just losing all your stock, but also your assets such as your house and your car and possibly your liberty."

Only buy from genuine and reputable traders. To find a genuine brand stockist visit https://www.brand-i.org/ Brand-I is a website shopping directory that only lists web stores selling genuine products. It is supported by the Trading Standards Institute. 

Picture:
Simon Cripwell Warwickshire Trading Standards Officer with just a small fraction of the haul of counterfeit products.

ENDS

For further information contact: Simon Cripwell, Trading Standards Officer, (01926) 414039 or 07771 975570. Email: simoncripwell@warwickshire.gov.uk
 
DATE: 18 December 2013