No less than 18,000 bottles of ‘Paco Rabanne’ and ‘Jean-Paul Gaultier’ perfume, 3,000 cuddly toys and over 900 pairs of ‘Nike Air Max’ trainers were among tens of thousands of fake goods seized by Border Force in the weeks leading up to Christmas as festive shoppers were warned against buying counterfeit items as last-minute presents.
Border Force officers at airports, sea ports and postal hubs detect and seize imported goods if they’re counterfeit, banned or if the correct duty hasn’t been paid. During a six-day operation in December – just one example of Border Force activity – some 83,000 items with an overall retail value of £3.5 million were seized at airports.
Recent seizures across UK ports and hubs worth more than £1 million include 900 fake Burberry scarves worth approximately £200,000, 750 fake Beats Pill portable speakers and 750 counterfeit Beats headphones (estimated to be worth more than £325,000), 100 Harry Potter wands and 3,000 counterfeit Pokemon, Nintendo and Minecraft cuddly toys valued at approximately £65,000, 137 fake Louis Vuitton handbags estimated to be worth more than £109,600 and 300 fake Sony Playstation PS3 controllers worth somewhere in the region of £15,000.
Link to serious and organised crime
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill said: “The international trade in counterfeit goods undercuts honest traders. It’s linked to serious and organised crime, sweatshop working practices, child labour and even the funding of terrorism. Unsuspecting customers are also left out of pocket with inferior and potentially dangerous goods in their possession. We’re determined to crack down on this form of criminality. Border Force officers actively help to protect consumers by working around the clock at the UK’s ports, airports and mail sorting centres in order to identify and seize counterfeit goods.”
Once items are seized, Border Force’s specialist international trade teams work with the owners of big brands to establish whether or not the goods are genuine. If they’re found to be fake, the goods are destroyed and the rights holders can then decide whether to privately prosecute the importers.
Matthew Cope, deputy director of IP enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, explained: “We worked with Border Force officers and rights holders at borders across the UK to intensify our efforts in targeted pre-Christmas activity. We detained goods destined for shops and markets, proving the worth of the co-ordinated approach. Indeed, it’s important that we have a united response and that people are protected from this type of crime.”
Anyone looking for a bargain in pre-Christmas shopping periods should be wary of prices which look too good to be true, from cut price alcohol through to heavily discounted electronics, and report anything they feel is suspicious.
*Any individual who has been sold counterfeit goods or knows someone who may have been selling them in the run-in to Christmas should contact Action Fraud direct on (telephone) 0300 123 2040