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Revealed: Huge Haul of Fake 1D Garments Sold by Plymouth Gang

  • May 3, 2016 at 2:06 pm
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  • This successful prosecution followed a covert operation by Surelock, working on behalf of TRAP (Trade Mark and Rights Holders Against Piracy) identifying eBay sites and making test purchases of our clients’ counterfeit merchandise, then working  with Plymouth Trading Standards to identify the offenders and raid the premises

    14143379-large
    In the foreground is part of the haul of fake goods sold by the gang

    This is just a fraction of the thousands of fake garments including One Direction tops offered for sale to unsuspecting customers over eBay.
    Trading standards seized the haul and a specialist printer from a Plymouth shop.
    But thousands of shirts and hooded tops, mostly bearing counterfeit logos for the boy band, had already been sold over the previous three years.
    Defendants Kenneth Colley, aged 43, Jason Ross, aged 45, and Anna Strzelecka, aged 40, and now deceased ringleader Trevor Brice made an estimated £140,000, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
    Judge Ian Lawrie handed the trio suspended prison sentences with unpaid work.
    He said: “I take the view that Mr Brice was the brains behind this operation. He was the one who thought of it and got it started.
    “He went to his friends for help and support. You all played a central role in a large operation.”
    Judge Lawrie had earlier admitted to the court that he had not heard of One Direction, the world’s biggest boy band.
    He added that he preferred the classical composer Bach.
    But the case was not stopped or delayed because of that, as reported by some media outlets.

    Julia Cox, prosecuting for Plymouth City Council, said that just under £140,000 went through the gang’s eBay accounts to be transferred into their own accounts from 2009 until 2012.
    She added that test purchasers acting for One Direction bought some of the items in May 2012 and discovered them to be fake.
    Trading standards then started watching a shop unit in Embankment Road linked to one of the defendants.
    Miss Cox said officers raided the address and seized specialist computing equipment and a printing press.
    She added that another man called Trevor Brice was arrested alongside the defendants but died before he was prosecuted.
    Miss Cox said that One Direction tops and T-shirts were sold at a price of £19.99. Boy London garments were also sold.
    The exact number of fake goods sold in court was not revealed in court.
    Colley admitted he had even been to India to source material.
    Ali Rafati, for Colley, said he was on benefits and the sole carer of a ten-year-old child.
    Colley had told the court that he allowed Brice to use his accounts for money and did not realise the scale of the operation.
    Nick Lewin, for Ross, added that the garments were of good quality and eBay was full of messages from grateful customers.
    He added that he was involved in the long conspiracy for only six months.
    Michael Green, for Strzelecka, said her main role was to allow the use of her eBay account.
    He added she was the mother to Colley’s young child.
    Judge Lawrie said: “I am confident that these defendants are unlikely to come before these courts again.”
    Colley and Strzelecka were both handed 16-month prison sentences, suspended for two years, with 150 hours unpaid work.
    Ross was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for the same period. He must do 75 hours unpaid work.
    Colley, of Risdon Avenue, Prince Rock, and Strzelecka, of nearby Embankment Road, pleaded guilty to selling goods bearing false trademarks between July 2009 and July 2012.
    Colley alone admitted possession of goods bearing false trademarks for sale. He also pleaded guilty to applying false trademarks to goods.

    Colley printer
    The specialist printer used by the gang to fake goods in a Plymouth shop

    He also admitted possession of the printing unit specifically designed to label clothing with a copy of a registered trademark.
    Colley, Strzelecka, and Ross, of Penmere Drive, Newquay, all pleaded guilty to possession, conversion or transfer of criminal property, namely the proceeds from selling the fakes.
    All three now face further hearings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover their profits from the illegal operation.
    Alex Fry, Trading Standards Manager, Plymouth City Council said after the case: “Genuine businesses including local shops are unable to compete with sellers of fake goods so we urge consumers not to buy counterfeit goods.
    “While it is tempting to buy cheap products, consumers are actually being ripped off and need to be aware of the consequences of piracy and counterfeit goods. Many counterfeit goods are potentially dangerous to consumers such as electrical equipment, toys, personal care products and medicines.

    http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Revealed-huge-haul-fake-Direction-garments-sold/story-29186828-detail/story.html

     

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    by dave

Urgent Alert: Online Extortion Demand Affecting UK Businesses

  • at 8:32 am
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  • Issued by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

    ALERT:

    Within the past 24 hours a number of businesses throughout the UK have received extortion demands from a group
    calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’.
    Method of Attack:
    The group have sent emails demanding payment of 5 Bitcoins, to be paid by a certain time and date. The email states
    that this demand will increase by 5 Bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid.

    If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a Denial of Service attack against the businesses’
    websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is made.

    The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.

     

    PROTECTION/PREVENTION ADVICE:

    What to do if you’ve received one of these demands:

    • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by using the online reporting tool.
    • Do not pay the demand.
    • Retain the original emails (with headers).
    • Maintain a timeline of the attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact.

    If you are experiencing a DDoS right now you should:

    • Report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 immediately.
    • Call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) (or hosting provider if you do not host your own Web server), tell them you are under attack and ask for help.
    • Keep a timeline of events and save server logs, web logs, email logs, any packet capture, network graphs, reports etc.

    Get Safe Online top tips for protecting your business from a DDoS:

    • Consider the likelihood and risks to your organisation of a DDoS attack, and put appropriate threat reduction/mitigation measures in place.
    • If you consider that protection is necessary, speak to a DDoS prevention specialist.
    • Whether you are at risk of a DDoS attack or not, you should have the hosting facilities in place to handle large, unexpected volumes of website hits.

     

    FEEDBACK:

    The NFIB needs feedback from our readers to evaluate the quality of our products and to inform our priorities.
    Please would you complete the following NFIB feedback survey through:
    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FeedbackSDU. This should take you no more than 2 minutes to complete. If you have other feedback or additional information that you would prefer to provide by email please send to:
    [email protected].

    For the full Alert from the NFIB: ransom_demand_email_alert

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    by dave

The Dangers of Fake Alcohol

  • April 22, 2016 at 6:27 am
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  • Producing fake alcohol is being seen as a way of making money and it can be bought cheaply. However it’s a big problem because of the risks it poses to people’s health, it can cause anything from nausea to blindness and even death.

    What is fake alcohol?

    Fake or illegally produced alcohol is alcohol that is produced in unlicensed distilleries or people’s homes and intended for sale. It is illegal to distill and sell alcohol to the public in the UK without a licence from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)1.

    The sale of illegal alcohol costs the UK around £1.2 billion per year2. Much of the fake or illegally produced alcohol contains potentially dangerous chemicals.

    “We’re very concerned about this trend in the availability of fake alcohol,” says Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute. “It’s not just about false bargains, counterfeit spirits and wine could be lethal.”

    Health risks from fake alcohol

    Properly produced and certified alcoholic drinks are made with ethanol – alcohol that’s safe to drink in moderation. But fake alcoholic drinks can be produced using other cheaper types of alcohol which can have serious adverse effects on your health.

    Drinkaware’s Chief Medical Advisor Professor Paul Wallace explains: “Commonly used substitutes for ethanol include chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and automobile screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol which are used in antifreeze and some fuels. These other types of alcohol can produce similar effects to ethanol in terms of making you feel tipsy. But they are also potentially very dangerous.”
    Drinking alcohol containing these chemicals can cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness. It can also lead to kidney or liver problems and even coma. Methanol, a substance which can be used in fake vodka, may cause permanent blindness.

    Find out how alcohol can affect your body here…“Drinking illegally produced alcohol should be avoided at all costs,” says Dr Wallace. “You don’t know what’s in it in terms of the actual chemicals – and you don’t know the strength of what you’re drinking because it’s not been produced to the standards of commercial alcohol.”

    How to recognise fake alcohol

    Jeremy Beadles, former Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirits Trade Association, believes most consumers won’t come across fake alcohol and says that it’s important to keep the problem in perspective. “The vast majority of alcohol in the UK is produced and sold legitimately,” he says. “Most pubs, corner shops, off licenses and other retailers are completely legitimate businesses and wouldn’t get involved with it.”
    However, it’s important to know how to spot—and avoid—fake alcohol if you do come across it.

    According to the Trading Standards Institute, people need to remember ‘the 4 Ps’: Place, Price, Packaging and Product.

    Place: Make sure you buy from a reputable supermarket, off licence or shop.

    Price: If a deal looks too good to be true, it most probably is.

    Packaging: Look out for:

    1. Poor quality labelling, including things like spelling mistakes.
    2. UK duty stamp—spirits in bottles 35cl or larger and 30% ABV or higher have to have a duty stamp, which indicates that tax has either been paid or is due to be paid on the contents of the bottle. They’re usually incorporated into the label or stuck on the glass. If it’s not there, it’s illegal
    3. Properly sealed caps. If the seal is broken, don’t drink it. Even if it’s not illegal, it could have been tampered with.
    4. Fake bar codes. If you have an app on your mobile that scans bar codes, scan it and see if it’s listed as the correct product.

    Product: Look out for fake versions of well-known brands and be wary of unusual brand names you haven’t seen before. Vodka, the most commonly counterfeited spirit, shouldn’t have any white particles or sediment in the bottle. If you see this, the vodka could have been diluted with tap water. If any alcohol tastes or smells bad, don’t drink it. Particularly look out for the smell of nail varnish.

    What to do if you spot fake alcohol

    If you think you’ve drunk fake alcohol, the best thing to do is to seek medical advice. You can also report it to your local environmental health officer, call Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.

     

    References-

    (1) HM Revenue and Customs website. Excise Notice 39: spirits production in the UK

    2012. Available at:

    http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPortalWebApp/channelsPortalWebApp.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pageExcise_ShowContent&id=HMCE_CL_000245&propertyType=document

    (2) HMRC Newsdesk website, Illicit tobacco and alcohol seized in Somerset, 20/11/15. Available at:

    http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/illicit-tobacco-and-alcohol-seized-in-somerset-1258172

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    by dave

Court Orders Counterfeit Seller from Cornwall to Pay £4000 Costs

  • April 10, 2016 at 6:15 pm
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  • This successful prosecution followed a covert operation by Surelock, working on behalf of TRAP (Trade Mark and Rights Holders Against Piracy) identifying eBay sites and making test purchases of our clients’ counterfeit merchandise, then working  with Cornwall Trading Standards to identify the offender and raid the premises.

    David Scott trading as Bubble And Bling attended Bodmin Magistrates Court today in the matter relating to the sale of counterfeit clothing via eBay.

    Surelock brought the matter to the attention of  Cornwall Trading Standards in August 2014 after carrying out a test purchase of a “One Direction” varsity jacket via eBay.

    In October 2014, a warrant was executed at a private address in Cornwall following information kindly supplied by eBay’s Global Asset Protection Officer showing that Bubble And Bling’s trading activities, over a two year period, generated a turnover of around £120,000 and that £20,000 related to “One Direction” items alone.

    On executing the warrant, further trade mark and copyright protected items were found. These included the following – Scooby Doo Van, The Vamps, Monster Energy, Disney’s Cars, Super Mario Kart, Barbie, 1D, Little Mix, Hello Kitty, Melted Rubik’s Cube and Warner Brothers.  There were a small number of additional clothing items already labelled up and ready to be sent to customers.

    The investigation led to another trader in Cornwall applying the images to vinyl material to be heat pressed on to clothing at a later date by Mr Scott. This other trader has received a formal caution for his part in this activity. Furthermore, a Home Authority referral was carried out in respect of a business outside of Cornwall supplying Disney copyright protected images to traders in Cornwall without a licence to do so.

    Trading via eBay meant Mr Scott had a worldwide customer base and had sold offending items as far reaching as Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

    As a result of this investigation, Mr Scott received a three year conditional discharge for operating a fraudulent business and for trade mark offences. He was ordered to pay £4000 in costs and a £15 Victim Surcharge. The courts imposed a minimum penalty on account of his early guilty plea and mitigating factors.

    All offending items seized have been granted forfeiture and will be destroyed.

    Plymouth Herald article: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Man-sold-20-000-fake-Direction-merchandise-eBay/story-29080865-detail/story.html

     

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    by dave

Eight Months in Prison for Fake Clothes Racket

  • March 26, 2016 at 9:21 am
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  • This successful prosecution followed a covert operation by Surelock, working on behalf of TRAP (Trade Mark and Rights Holders Against Piracy) identifying websites and making test purchases of our clients’ counterfeit merchandise, then working  with Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards to identify the offender and raid the premises.  All printing equipment, four computers, presses, blanks and paperwork were seized. The main counterfeits being sold were 1D, Kiss, Nirvana, Motorhead, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Stone Roses.

    A man who raked in more than £53,000 from selling counterfeit clothes has been handed an eight-month jail sentence.

    Nilupul Hettiarachchige, of Acacia Rd, Bedford, admitted eight charges, including knowingly taking part in running a fraudulent business, after being raided by Central Bedfordshire Council’s Trading Standards team.

    Hettiarachchige’s operation ran from November 2012 until October 2014 before the council’s team raided his house and seized items of clothing, printing equipment and computers.

    The business included selling fake t-shirts and hoodies on well-known websites, such as Amazon and eBay. Seized garments have been de-branded and sent to charities to be resold or distributed.

    Executive Member for Community Services Cllr Brian Spurr said: “This is another superb result for our Trading Standards team who work tirelessly to catch people like this.

    “While there may be a temptation in making some quick cash by making and selling counterfeit goods it is against the law and as this case has proven, you could face time in prison for your criminal activities.”

    The issue of forfeiture of computer and printing equipment, along with prosecution costs, will be decided in August when there will be a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing.

    The council will be seeking to obtain all of the proceeds made from Hettiarachchige’s illegal activity.

    http://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/news/local/eight-months-in-prison-for-fake-clothes-racket-1-7295076

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    by dave

Gang Face Jail for Selling Fake Clothing Including 1D Garments on eBay

  • March 21, 2016 at 3:51 pm
  • 0. comments
  • This successful prosecution followed a covert operation by Surelock, working on behalf of TRAP (Trade Mark and Rights Holders Against Piracy) identifying eBay sites and making test purchases of our clients’ counterfeit merchandise, then working  with Plymouth Trading Standards to identify the offenders and raid the premises

    Three people face jail for their part in an operation selling fake goods worth tens of thousands of pounds – including One Direction clothing.

    Kenneth Colley, aged 43, his former partner Anna Strzelecka, aged 39, and 45-year-old Jason Ross were part of a gang which offered counterfeit garments for sale on Ebay for three years.

    Prosecutors claim the operation made more than £150,000 – though this figure is disputed by the defendants.

    Clothes bearing false trademarks such as One Direction and Boy London were sold on Ebay between 2009 and 2012.

    File photo dated 06/06/15 of (left to right) Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles of One Direction, who confirmed their status as one of the biggest Ð and most lucrative Ð groups in the world, as it was revealed they earned £6.15 million a month in 2014. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday October 16, 2015. Their company, 1d Media Limited, achieved a turnover of £73.7 million last year according to their annual financial statement. That is £6.15 million a month or £202,014 a day. See PA story SHOWBIZ OneDirection. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

    The gang even had an expensive machine designed to print fake labels, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

    Colley, of Risdon Avenue, Prince Rock, and Strzelecka, of nearby Embankment Road, pleaded guilty to selling goods bearing false trade marks between July 2009 and July 2012.

     The court heard the maximum jail term for the offence was 14 years.

    Colley alone admitted possession of goods bearing false trade marks for sale between the same dates.  He also pleaded guilty to applying false trade marks to goods.

    Colley also admitted possession of a printing unit – namely a Coolemaster computer tower and printers – specifically designed to label clothing with a copy of a registered trademark.

    Colley, Strzelecka, and Ross, of Penmere Drive, Newquay all pleaded guilty to possession, conversion or transfer of criminal property, namely the proceeds from selling the fakes.

    Prosecutors from Plymouth City Council have previously described the operation as a “large commercial enterprise” which netted the gang between £150,000 and £180,000.

    Recorder Nicholas Hall adjourned the case until April 25 for a fact-finding hearing to establish the role Colley played in the gang.

    A judge will also assess how much Colley and Ross made from the operation.

    The trio will be sentenced and are then likely to face further court proceedings to seize their ill-gotten gains.

    They were each released on unconditional bail.

    Read more: http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Gang-tens-thousands-selling-fake-clothing/story-28949380-detail/story.html#ixzz43YKiMyAt

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    by dave

Be Aware of “Your package has been seized” Scam

  • February 3, 2016 at 8:52 am
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  • Fraudsters are sending out virus infected emails that claim a package has been seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom.

    The official looking scam emails claiming to be from Royal Mail contain a link to document which will install malicious software on your computer designed to steal credentials like account names, email addresses and passwords etc.

    An example email reads

    Title: Your parcel has been seized

    Royal Mail is sorry to inform you that a package addressed to you was seized by HM Revenue & Customs upon arrival into the United Kingdom.

    A close inspection deemed your items as counterfeit and the manufacturers have been notified. If your items are declared genuine then they will be returned back to you with the appropriate custom charges.

    You may have been a victim of counterfeit merchandise and the RM Group UK will notify you on how to get your money back. Please review the attached PDF document for more information. 

    Document (RM7002137GB).Zip

    Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

    The help the spread of the virus, the emails also says: “you will need to have access to a computer to download and open the Zip file”.

    If you receive one of these emails, do not click on any links or download any attachments and report it to Action Fraud.

    Advice from Royal Mail on scam emails and how they contact you

    • Royal Mail will never send an email asking for credit card numbers or other personal or confidential information.
    • Royal Mail will never ask customers to enter information on a page that isn’t part of the Royal Mail website.
    • Royal Mail will never include attachments unless the email was solicited by customer e.g. customer has contacted Royal Mail with an enquiry or has signed up for updates from Royal Mail.
    • Royal Mail have also stressed that they do not receive a person’s email address as part of any home shopping experience.

    You can now also sign up for free to Action Fraud Alert to receive direct, verified, accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message.

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    by Alex

Surelock Supports Camden Enforcements

  • at 8:42 am
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  • IMAG0522#001Surelock representing TRAP and other clients, together with a large number of ACG members assisted officers from Camden Council Trading Standards carry out two days of enforcements in and around the Camden area. 

    A market, six retail stores and stalls were raided and van loads of counterfeit merchandise were seized.

    Surelock will continue to gather intelligence and assist the authorities in Camden as the sale of counterfeits in the area is still commonplace, although significantly improved in recent times.

     

     

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    by Alex

Louis Vuitton sues Counterfeit Online Sellers in China

  • January 25, 2016 at 8:23 am
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  • French luxury goods firm Louis Vuitton is seeking damages from three people convicted of offering counterfeit versions of its clothing, shoes and handbags on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s popular Taobao shopping website, a Beijing court said.

    A district court in Beijing accepted the lawsuit filed by Louis Vuitton, owned by LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group, last Monday, according to a statement on the court’s website.

    The company is taking the three defendants, two of them surnamed Liang and the other surnamed Han, to court, “asking them to stop infringing on its trademark and is seeking compensation of economic losses of 250,000 yuan ($37,900)”, according to the court statement.

    Louis Vuitton could not be reached for comment. It was not possible to reach the three defendants for comment.

    The three defendants were selling the goods on Taobao, an online shopping site similar to eBay and Amazon that brings together buyers and sellers, according to the court. Alibaba Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The lawsuit comes three months after a U.S. clothing industry group urged the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to blacklist the Taobao website for persistent intellectual property rights violations despite pledges by the e-commerce firm to curb the problem.

    The three defendants were given unspecified criminal sentences in 2014 for selling counterfeit versions of Louis Vuitton goods, the court said.

    Source: Reuters

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-luxury-lawsuit-idUSKCN0UO0MZ20160110

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    by Alex

Cheetham Hill: Report reveals ‘Counterfeit Street’ problem

  • January 23, 2016 at 10:45 am
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  • _87737985_trainers
    Fake trainers and footwear are some of the items that have been seized in Cheetham Hill (Image copyright IPO)

     

    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..

    Safety ‘ignored’

    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.

    _87737987_fakeclothing
    The thriving clothing trade in the area is a “front for criminal sales of counterfeits”, the report said (Image copyright 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.”

    _87737983_counterfeit
    Fake designer footwear seized by the Intellectual Property Office in Cheetham Hill (Image copyright IPO)
     
     

    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.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-35324026

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    by Alex