Suspected counterfeit gang dismantled in raids
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has dismantled a suspected criminal group believed to be importing and selling a wide range of fake fashion goods, in a joint operation with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Two men were arrested and their Merseyside homes searched, in a series of raids on 25 March by the unit based at the City of London Police - the National Lead Force for Fraud, with support from Merseyside Police.
The investigation was launched by PIPCU, following a referral from an international law enforcement partner. The two men, aged 43 and 48, are believed to be part of a criminal operation involved in the importation and distribution of high-end counterfeit products.
Trading Standards Officers from Liverpool City Council and brand protection officers from brands believed to be affected, accompanied detectives on the investigation and a large number of counterfeit goods including; cosmetics, sunglasses, boots and handbags, were seized from two storage containers and a further commercial property.
The suspects were taken to a local Merseyside police station for questioning and were later released on bail. Enquiries into the investigation are still ongoing.
DCI Andy Fyfe, Head of PIPCU said, "Our joint operation successfully disrupted what is believed to be an Organised Crime Group, profiting from the hard work of well known and established brands.
"Crime like this is costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year and is putting legitimate businesses in danger. Together with our partners in both the UK and overseas, PIPCU will continue to tackle IP crime and those who break the law."
The NCA's David Hounsome said, "Intellectual Property crime can put consumers in danger from substandard or unsafe goods, as well as impact on businesses' revenues and reputations which can in turn lead to job losses. This is organised criminality with real victims. With its partners, the NCA is taking action to fight those seeking to profit at the expense of the UK public and legitimate industry."
PIPCU launched in September 2013 to protect UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content.
The operationally independent unit, based at the City of London Police, is initially being funded by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Picture of confiscated counterfeit Ugg gloves.
DATE: 27 March 2014