Counterfeit Christmas: 4,000 fake goods seized in Wales
More than 4,000 items worth more than £130,000 were seized in counterfeit goods raids in Wales over Christmas.
Welsh councils’ trading standards teams carried out 39 raids and netted 4,391 items believed to be fake, including toys, clothes, footwear and cosmetics.
All together, the items are worth an estimated street value of £132,115.
Wales Heads of Trading Standards warned people caught selling these items risked a heavy fine or prison.
More than 100 traders in Wales were targeted by authorities this Christmas and a number of campaigns had warned the public about buying “bargain” gifts.
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Powys council seized the largest amount of goods – four raids uncovered 1,500 items valued at about £30,000.
A raid in Cardiff found 25 items of jewellery worth at least £25,000 while Bridgend council also made one seizure of 500 items worth £10,000.
Rhondda Cynon Taf council carried out four raids and uncovered 400 items worth £20,000, plus £1,000 in cash and “several thousands of pounds worth of drugs”.
Yet the true number of goods seized and their estimated worth could be even higher as some councils could not give specific details.
These figures also do not include counterfeit cigarettes or tobacco – found in Powys, Monmouthshire and Denbighshire.
Trading standards officers from Powys council said they uncovered a “sizeable network of sales of counterfeit tobacco” which ran “into the millions”.
Alison Farrar, who leads Wales Heads of Trading Standards, said its officers had urged shoppers to be “alert and aware” when it came to buying presents in the run up to Christmas.
“Counterfeiting is a serious crime which can have a real impact upon our communities, and the seizure of this large haul of counterfeit goods across Wales is the result of a lot of hard work by a number of different organisations all working together to ensure these items don’t end up for sale,” she said.
Ros Lynch, director of copyright and enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said this work was “vital” to protect consumers from counterfeit products “which can be dangerous and have serious health and safety implications”.
“We regularly work with brand owners, brand representatives, law enforcement bodies and trading standards to share information about people who are selling counterfeit goods, so our warning to traders is that, if they are found to be selling these products, it could result in a prison sentence,” she added.
According to the UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group, more than 120,000 fake products were netted over the 2016 festive period, “a proportion of which was heading for Welsh consumers”.
But it stressed it was difficult to give precise figures on exactly how many goods were seized in Wales due to the fact many suppliers buy the products elsewhere in the UK or on social media.