Detectives from the City of London Police’s dedicated IP crime unit (PIPCU) arrested three people in morning raids and seized more than 1,500 suspected fake goods on 9 Dec 2014 as part of a crackdown on counterfeit goods being sold online in the lead up to Christmas. Yesterday’s operations form part of the force’s current ‘12 online Frauds of Christmas’ campaign which has been rolled out across the country to protect millions of people from falling victim to cyber-fraudsters.
Detectives from PIPCU arrested a 31 year old man at his home on suspicion of selling counterfeit designer watches online following a referral from the Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU).
Upon searching his home, officers found and seized around 1,500 suspected fake watches from a range of top designer brands, which if sold at the genuine retail price are worth around £1million.
With support from Leicestershire Police, the man was taken to a police station for questioning and later released on bail until May 2015.
In Leeds, the unit arrested a 26 year old man and a 28 year old woman at two residential addresses following a referral from the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG), a trade organisation which represents rights holders in the branded goods sector.
The man and woman are suspected to be two of the UK’s top sellers on social media for counterfeit designer goods. Approximately 150 suspected fake goods were seized from the two properties including designer shoes, handbags, clothes and watches.
They were taken to local police stations for questioning and cautioned by officers.
Detective Chief Superintendent, Dave Clark, said: “Yesterday’s action by our Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) sends home a strong message to anyone thinking of selling or buying fake goods that the police take this issue very seriously.
“Counterfeit goods are cheap and shoddy versions of the original and the public need to be aware that they are potentially putting themselves at risk by buying them. Not only can fake goods, such as cosmetics or electrical items, be a risk to your health, but if you buy any counterfeit item online, you risk having your computer infected with viruses and malware or your financial details being compromised.
“We would urge anyone who thinks they have unknowingly bought counterfeit goods this Christmas to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk. Don’t forget if you believe someone is selling counterfeit goods, you can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers.”
Tim Mascall, Director of the IP Crime Unit said: “The success of these raids once again show the value of having a dedicated police unit to coordinate the fight against intellectual property crime. The City of London Police’s anti-counterfeiting initiative in the run-up to Christmas is a timely reminder of the serious and insidious nature of product counterfeiting. It is important for us all to remember that this not the victimless cottage industry that the counterfeiters would have us believe, but rather a well organised international criminal enterprise, often with links to other types of serious crime.”
Alison Statham, Director of Operations at the Anti Counterfeiting Group (ACG) said ‘’the ACG is committed to supporting agencies such as PIPCU in the fight against product counterfeiting and we welcome the action taken on Tuesday in Leeds. This was part of a broader multi-agency initiative to tackle this phenomenon. We are also grateful to our member brands who took part in the action, giving a clear message that a collaborative approach by law enforcement, industry and government is the only way forward to reduce this criminal activity.’’
If you have unknowingly bought fake goods this Christmas, you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If you suspect someone is selling counterfeit goods you can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers at https://crimestoppers-uk.org/ or by calling 0800 555 111.