Part of Manchester has been nicknamed “Counterfeit Street” because of the widespread sale of fake goods there.
A report by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) said items worth £1m were seized in Cheetham Hill, in 2013.
Fake clothing, footwear, hoverboards and cigarettes have all been seized in the area.
Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said she had raised concerns about the “counterfeiting hotbed” that continues to thrive there.
She told the BBC the area is “almost like the counterfeit capital of the UK” and added it was a “national problem.”
People come to Cheetham Hill in white vans and “take away fake hoverboards, booze or cigarettes,” she said.
“What was a localised problem has become a more serious national problem.”
She said sometimes the goods are unsafe and they have picked up some dangerous hoverboards which could be lethal, and fake alcohol that “could kill”.
She said there would now be a concerted effort to disrupt the activity of crime groups..
The IPO report said the concentration of counterfeiters in the area has “negative consequences for the local community and economy, as well as the harm of associated criminality such as money laundering, organised crime group involvement, drug dealing and violence”.
Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “This trade, where income tax and consumer safety is simply ignored, undercuts and undermines legitimate businesses and allows other criminality to be funded and flourish.”
She said the report “signals the start of a concerted effort to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups operating in nationally significant trade”.
The government-funded Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) which has specialists in counterfeit crime has been given £3m by IPO.
“Despite these efforts, the problem is so ingrained in the fabric of everyday life in the area that the problem persists, with the businesses often operational again within days of action being taken,” she added.
The thriving clothing trade in the area is a “front for criminal sales of counterfeits,” according to the report.
It said: “Amongst law enforcement, rights-holders and in the media, Cheetham Hill is anecdotally referred to as ‘Counterfeit Street’.
“It is indicative of the entrenched criminal culture of the area that the trade in counterfeit goods has continued despite regular enforcement action and high-volume seizures.”
But Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “Our trading standards officers have been working closely with Greater Manchester Police and other agencies to crack down on counterfeiting in Cheetham Hill for a number of years, and we have seized huge amounts of counterfeit items.
“However, the scale of these criminal operations, and the fact that counterfeiters are also involved in a range of other criminal activities, means that a more co-ordinated approach is needed to deal with the issue.”
The report stated “no single agency” can tackle the problem.
Mr Murphy added: “I welcome that the government has recognised this issue and look forward to our officers working as part of a wider partnership to tackle the counterfeit trade.”
Nationally, there were 75,000 counterfeit goods seized in 2014/15 with an estimated retail value of £2.5m.
The Government has published a report that reveals in stark terms the impact of counterfeiting and the sale of black market goods in Manchester.
This Government is committed to protecting the public from the insidious threat posed by organised crime, and is fighting against its lifeblood – the black market economy.
This cause is no longer the sole responsibility of traditional law enforcement such as police forces or Trading Standards. Government departments and agencies such as the Intellectual Property Office are working in close partnership with law enforcement, sharing information and making life as difficult as possible for criminals who exploit our citizens and damage the UK economy.
The production, distribution, and sale of counterfeit goods has always had close links to serious organised crime, a fact often not considered by the everyday bargain-hunting or cash-strapped consumer. Thanks to the ever increasing partnership between government departments, industry, and law enforcement we are leaving fewer and fewer places for criminals to hide.
Working together we have made a significant impact on IP crime across the UK however problem areas still exist.
Following discussions with the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, I raised concerns about the counterfeiting hotbed that continues to thrive in the area of Cheetham Hill, Manchester. This trade, where income tax and consumer safety is simply ignored, undercuts and undermines legitimate businesses and allows other criminality to be funded and flourish. This report is the first part of the multi-agency response to the criminal trade which has become established in the area, and signals the start of a concerted effort to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups operating in nationally significant trade.
The report also represents an important first step to delivering a managed solution across the whole range of intellectual property crime trade. The Home Office proposals for Local Profiles will be an important factor in how further intelligence work is undertaken by the Intellectual Property Office. The relationship between industry and enforcement will also be a critical one, and we call on brands to work with Government and law enforcement to help identify criminal activity.
The UK has been regarded as a world leader in intellectual property rights enforcement. This is achieved as a direct result of co-ordinated and informed interventions. I will be maintaining a close personal interest in the progress of the challenge to the identified criminality over the coming months.
Gardai have seized a shipping container full of fake perfume which had been destined for the Irish market after arriving here from China.
The seizure was made by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in a top-secret operation in Dundalk, Co Louth, last week when a ship arrived at the port.
Sources said detectives have been investigating the counterfeit smuggling operations of a veteran dissident republican from Louth and his business partner from Newry, Co Down.
The fake perfume was packaged as legitimate high-end brands, but when tested it proved to be “generic Chinese toilet water in specialist packs”.
Gardai seized the fake perfume last Wednesday, but have not yet made any arrests.
“The fake perfume would have been worth scores of thousands of euro to the cross- border gang who were involved in the enterprise.
“These individuals are veteran dissident republicans who have been involved in smuggling for years,” a source said.
Gardai have been involved in a number of operations targeting counterfeit goods in recent months.
Only days before Christmas, officers seized €30,000 worth of counterfeit clothing and €25,000 in cash during planned raids in the capital targeting a Dublin man who is believed to be heavily involved in the illegal trade.
The Crumlin man was not arrested, but sources said he may well face future prosecution.
Earlier last month, the Herald revealed that customs officers impounded a huge consignment of hair straighteners at Dublin Port in an operation targeting a north inner city gang.
In November, it emerged that two containers holding 59,000 bottles of counterfeit perfumes and aftershaves were intercepted at Dublin Port in a €2m seizure.
Gardai previously ran an investigation called Operation Camac which was set up in 2011 to target those involved in the production, distribution and sale of counterfeit merchandise.
Separately, gardai and customs officers have identified at least four separate crime groupings who are making millions of euro each year by importing illegal cigarettes which are yielding them profits of more than 900pc .
Surelock, as part of its ongoing brand protection programme for clients, routinely works alongside UKBF (Customs) detaining counterfeit product when it enters the UK from China. On this occasion goods were detained at Coventry Parcel Force Hub and Heathrow (Langley) Hub. After Enfield Trading Standards officers identified the importers there followed a lengthy investigation…
On Monday 14th December 2015 Amisi Chora Michelino and Egido Kuba were sentenced after pleading guilty for offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994- S92(b)(1).
Michelino was sentenced to 5 years, which was reduced for his guilty plea at the start of the trial in April to 4 years 3 months.
Kuba was also convicted of perverting the course of justice (for which he has previous) and this was done whilst he was on bail for importing counterfeit goods (an aggravating factor), so he received a longer sentence of 4 years 6 months.
Forfeiture of the goods was granted but no costs were applied for because the men were in prison
The investigation and subsequent prosecution cost the Enfield local authority over £50,000.
Companies hired by western manufacturers produce their own counterfeits, present them as seized goods and collect big bounties, an investigation finds.
Multinational corporations doing business in China face a losing battle when it comes to keeping copies of their products off the market, with anti-counterfeiting investigators either collaborating with producers of the fake goods, or copying the goods themselves, according to a report.
The Associated Press said it had found that anti-counterfeiting investigators were widely involved in copying products of their own western customers so they could claim bounties for “seizing” them.
The western companies subcontract anti-counterfeiting work to private investigators paid on commission. More seizures mean higher fees, creating powerful incentives to cheat in an industry with little oversight.
As counterfeiting has flourished in China over decades, a lucrative, parallel industry has blossomed to fight it. Counterfeiting today is a multibillion-dollar business in China, which produces nearly nine of every 10 fake items seized at US borders.
One of the world’s largest consumer goods companies hired an investigator to track down counterfeit anti-dandruff shampoo in China, the AP said. But instead of finding real counterfeiters, the investigator, Wang Yunming, set up a factory to produce counterfeit shampoo himself, which he then “seized” and billed to the firm as a successful raid, according to two employees involved in the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.
Wang was convicted of fraud and is due to be released from prison in 2023, according to a copy of a judgment from Hefei intermediate people’s court in China’s Anhui province.
Chinese authorities have been getting better at fining counterfeiters and sending them to jail. But the momentum of reform has yet to reach the front lines of the fight against fakes, according to previously undisclosed material from legal cases and internal corporate investigations in China reviewed by the AP, lawsuits, and interviews with 16 private investigators, lawyers and law enforcement officials.
All described a broken system, beset by endemic and underreported fraud, made worse by western companies that have a poor command over how to successfully fight fraud.
Shanghai’s Public Security Bureau took the unusual step of warning foreign brand owners to be watchful of the investigators they hire. “We very much hope that brand owners will pay attention and devote more manpower and material resources to ensure that the fight against counterfeiting is healthy and orderly,” the bureau said in written response to questions from the AP.
More than £500,000 worth of counterfeit goods – including teddy bears, football shirts and illegal condoms – were seized in a pre-Christmas raid in central London.
The crackdown targeted 10 stores in and around the famous Trocadero Centre in Piccadilly Circus.
Among the haul recovered from traders were fake Minions clothing, condoms emblazoned with an offensive slogan and unlicensed Hello Kitty toys.
The raids, carried out by Westminster City Council, Trading Standards, police and UK border agency staff, came after shoppers and tourists repeatedly complained about the price and legitimacy of goods sold in souvenir shops.
A council spokesman said: “We will not stand by and allow traders to flog fake goods, which rip off both honest retailers and the public.
“Our operation with the Met police and partners shows that Westminster’s Trading Standards team is serious about tackling this problem in the heart of London.
“Rogue traders should beware; we will seize your fake goods.”
Large quantities of business documents were also seized during the raids – dubbed Operation Canton – and one person suspected of being an illegal immigrant was arrested by the UK Border Agency officers.
Sergeant Paul Clooney, from Westminster police, said: “Counterfeiting is often thought of as a victimless crime but it can have devastating effects on local traders who are trying to legitimately sell goods.
“Customers end up buying items which are often of a poor and sometimes dangerous standard.
“This operation should deter others who think the West End is an easy place to sell counterfeit goods. We will continue to work with partners to target such individuals.
A growing number of hackers are targeting professionals on LinkedIn, according to security firm Symantec.
Its investigation uncovered dozens of fake accounts on the social network, across a variety of industries.
Posing as recruiters, the fake accounts allow hackers to map the networks of business professionals and gain the trust of those in them.
The security firm has worked with LinkedIn to remove all of the fake accounts it identified.
By making these connections, criminals can entice users to give up personal details, direct them to malware-laden websites and, if they can get their email addresses, launch spear-phishing campaigns – targeted emails that aim to steal personal information.
“LinkedIn users expect to be contacted by recruiters, so this ruse works out in the scammers’ favour,” it said in its report.
“Most of these fake accounts have been quite successful in gaining a significant network – one had 500 contacts. Some even managed to get endorsements from others,” Symantec researcher Dick O’Brien told the BBC.
In response LinkedIn said: “We investigate suspected violations of our Terms of Service, including the creation of false profiles, and take immediate action when violations are uncovered.
We have a number of measures in place to confirm authenticity of profiles and remove those that are fake. We encourage members to utilise our Help Center to report inaccurate profiles and specific profile content to LinkedIn.”
The researchers found that the fake profiles tended to be made up of text that had been copied and pasted from the profiles of real professionals. They used photos, often of women, pulled either from stock image sites or of real professionals.
They also used keywords such as “reservoir engineer”, “exploration manager” and “cargo securement training” which are likely to gain them visibility via the site’s built-in search engine.
Many of the terms related to the logistics, information security and oil and gas industries, Symantec said.
Mr O’Brien had some tips for LinkedIn users worried that they might have befriended a hacker.
“You can do a reverse image search by dragging and dropping the profile picture into Google Images and see what it brings up.
“Copying and pasting the job information in Google can also reveal whether it has been taken from somewhere else.”
Twitter and Facebook also have problems with fake accounts but LinkedIn seems to be particularly attractive to hackers, said Mr O’Brien.
“It reveals the greater sophistication of cyber-criminals that they are prepared to play the long game by gaining information for future attacks in this way,” he said.
It is not the first time that researchers have pointed out the dangers of fake LinkedIn profiles.
In October, researchers from Dell’s counter-threat unit identified a network of at least 25 fake profiles that had links to over 200 legitimate ones, belonging to people working in defence, telecommunications, government and utilities.
The fake accounts were linked back to an Iran-based hacker group.
More than 15,000 unsafe hoverboards – otherwise known as self-balancing scooters – have been seized at ports and airports around the UK.
Trading Standards officers said the boards were in danger of overheating, exploding or catching fire.
Hoverboards, which are popular with celebrities including Lilly Allen, are expected to be big Christmas sellers.
The London Fire Brigade said at least three house fires were caused by such devices over 10 days in October.
Many have plugs without fuses, faulty cables or chargers that can burst into flames, according to Trading Standards.
It said that 88% of the hoverboards it seized around the UK were found to be defective.
Most were discovered at the Suffolk port of Felixstowe, but others arrived at East Midlands airport and in Glasgow.
The faulty devices are thought to have come from East Asia and China and do not conform to European safety standards.
Most are not branded and have been ordered by websites or small traders to sell on to bargain-hunting shoppers.
“We suspect that most of these products are being imported for onward sale domestically as Christmas approaches. We urge consumers to be on their guard when purchasing these products,” said Lord Harris, the chair of National Trading Standards.
Consumers are being advised, as a minimum, to check that the three-pin plug conforms to BS 1363.
Safety laboratories have been so busy testing suspect products that they have had to take on extra staff.
Trading Standards is now giving the following tips to consumers who are thinking of buying a hoverboard or who may already have done so:
Never leave the device charging unattended, especially overnight. A faulty cut-off switch means it could overheat.
Check the plug. Many faulty devices have a “clover-shaped” plug.
If buying online, be careful to check the website is genuine and has a contactable phone number and address.
Don’t be dazzled by prices which seem too low.
“Consumers should not let a new fashion or craze cloud their judgement and remain vigilant at all times,” said Leon Livermore, chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
Trading Standards officers in Salford, Greater Manchester, seized 90 hoverboards last month, citing similar safety worries.
Fires have also been reported in the US, Australia and Hong Kong.
Hoverboards are so called because of a similar device seen in the 1989 film, Back to the Future 2.
But it is illegal in the UK to ride them on pavements, or on roads. They can only be used on private land.
Anyone who finds such products for sale is being urged to contact the Citizens Advice helpline, on 03454 04 05 06.
THREE people have faced a judge accused of selling a huge haul of fake goods – including One Direction clothing.
Kenneth Colley, aged 42, Jason Ross, aged 45 and Anna Strzelecka, aged 39, appeared at Plymouth Crown Court jointly charges with selling clothing bearing trademarked images between July 1 2009 and July 12, 2012.
Prosecutors claim the operation made more than £150,000.
They are further accused of concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct, namely cash, between the same dates.
Colley and Strzelecka are also charged with possessing a printing unit – namely a Coolemaster computer tower and printers – specifically designed to label clothing with a registered trade mark
The pair also allegedly created clothing with a registered trade mark and possessed clothing bearing a false trade mark with a view to selling the goods.
Colley, of Risdon Avenue, Prince Rock; Strzelecka of nearby Embankment Road, and Ross, of Penmere Drive, Newquay did not enter pleas to any of the charges.
Prosecutors have previously estimated the profits from the operation were between £150,000 and £180,000.
Clothes bearing false trademarks such as One Direction and Boy London were allegedly sold on Ebay.
Judge Paul Darlow set down a trial to last four or five days starting May 9 next year.
The trio were released on unconditional bail until an interim hearing on February 22 when they will be expected to enter pleas.