News item

eBay fraudster jailed

An investigation led by Sandwell Council trading standards officers has resulted in the successful prosecution of three eBay conmen, who defrauded buyers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Jason Messenger was jailed this week for 18 months after trading standards officers and police first raided his home in November 2007 and found thousands of pounds worth of fake Nike, Timberland, Adidas and Lacoste trainers, along with other counterfeit clothing, perfume, handbags and sunglasses.

Messenger’s nephew Kevin Gibbons was also convicted of selling counterfeit trainers and t-shirts following a separate internet investigation. His home was raided in January 2008.

This linked Gibbons and Messenger with Simon Jones who was also selling fake trainers on eBay. Counterfeit goods were found at his home during a raid in January 2008.

Messenger, Gibbons and Jones were advertising the fake goods on Ebay as genuine items, fleecing unsuspecting buyers out of thousands of pounds.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard the trio’s deception would have cost the counterfeited brands involved £391,540.

Jason Messenger pleaded guilty to nine counts of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale and two counts of fraud.  He also admitted falsely bidding on his own items to drive up the price – known as "shill bidding" or ‘shilling’ on eBay – and was prosecuted under the Fraud Act.

Kevin Gibbons pleaded guilty to 10 counts of possessing goods with a false trade mark for sale.  He was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.

Simon Jones pleaded guilty to five counts of the possessing goods with a false trade mark. He was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and 120 hours of unpaid work in the community.

All three now face Proceeds of Crime Act hearings.

Sandwell Council’s trading standards manager Bob Robinson said:

‘Trading on the internet is now available 24/7 and fraudsters have infiltrated the market which has increased the risk to consumers.

‘The government has recently announced that it intends to support the Trading Standards Service by providing additional funding to train officers to investigate internet trading.

‘I am certain we shall see more of this type of case – but we will be able to better protect out consumers.’