Crackdown on Facebook fraudsters

Suspected counterfit goods seized by Trading Standards
Suspected counterfit goods seized by Trading Standards

Counterfeit goods with a street value of thousands of pounds have been seized in Newcastle.

Jewellery, clothing and footwear were recovered from a home in the East End of the city. Trading Standards suspect they were destined for the lucrative Christmas market.

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “It’s understandable that with the squeeze on incomes everyone is looking for bargains this Christmas. But if the offer seems too good to be true then it probably is.

“I would urge shoppers to take extra care when buying goods especially privately. Check that they are the real thing. If they are not, you could be giving perfume that burns the skin, clothes that fall apart or electrical items that burst into flames.

“Our trading standards officers always act on complaints received. They monitor what is being sold through social media, so the message is clear: if you are selling dodgy goods and ripping off the public we will catch you. You will be living with that fear of getting a knock on the door.”

Officers swooped on two addresses, which were unconnected, following complaints from people who had bought items over Facebook which had turned out to be fakes.

Officers suspect that many of the items had illegal trade marks on them and were sub-standard, depriving legitimate manufacturers of revenue and the exchequer of taxes. Th items are now being examined.

A computer was seized from the second address in the north of the city, so its contents could be examined for signs of illegal trading.

Four per cent of imports into the UK are counterfeit – worth £9.3bn. The OECD identifies China as the biggest producer of counterfeit goods and clothing as the largest market sector.

Clothing and tobacco are the most popular counterfeited goods followed by cosmetics, footwear and alcohol. In 2017-18 there was a big increase in counterfeit toys, cosmetics and make-up according to the Government’s Intellectual Property Office.

Shops are the most common sites for the trade in counterfeit goods followed by social media, houses and auctions. Fake goods have strong connections with benefit fraud, money laundering, organised crime, drug dealing, loan sharking and modern-day slavery.

Commenting on the latest raids in Newcastle, Trading Standards Manager, David Ellerington, said: “If you suspect that someone is dealing in counterfeit goods don’t ignore it. You can report it to Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or ring trading standards on 0191 2787878.

“We always act on intelligence received and will be stepping up these raids in the run up to Christmas.”