A woman from Harlow was convicted at Barking Magistrates Court on 20th June 2019. (Her details have been withheld at the request of her solicitors). She pleaded guilty to three (3) offences of selling counterfeit goods contrary to Section 92 of The Trademarks Act 1994. The woman was sentenced to a Conditional Discharge for 18 months, ordered to pay a £100 contribution to investigation costs and a Victim Surcharge of £20.00.
The case was brought by TM Eye as a private criminal prosecution on behalf of its clients Jimmy Choo, Pandora and another well known luxury goods brand.
The convicted woman operated on a facebook Group selling page ‘Things for Sale in and around Romford areas’. She used the false details ‘Lou-Elle James’ and advertised an array of counterfeit goods which included handbags, belts, scarves and small accessories including wallets, purses and jewellery branded with the names Michael Kors, Versace, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Armani, Boss, Jimmy Choo and many others. She also sent WhatsApp broadcast lists to over 100 people every week offering a wide variety of fake goods. She also offered a Personal Shopping Service whereby a customer was able to send her a picture of an item they would like for her to source a fake copy. No enforcement action was taken in relation to the other brands on sale at the request of their representatives.
TM Eye’s Online Investigations Team commenced an investigation on 1st November 2018. Following contact with the woman via Facebook, TM Eye deployed undercover detectives from the TM Eye Dedicated Undercover Unit and TM Eye’s Surveillance Team to carry out a series of covertly filmed test purchases. Test purchases were made at various locations including Dagenham market, McDonalds in Harlow and in Brentwood on 2nd November 2018 of a Louis Vuitton purse for £30.00 that if genuine would cost £885.00, on 4th February 2019 of a Louis Vuitton bag for £45.00 that if genuine would cost £1,270.00, on 24th February 2019 of a fake Jimmy Choo bag for £20.00 and 26th May 2019 of a fake Pandora bracelet with charms for £23.90 valued at over £400.00 if genuine.
During the investigation it was identified that the defendant using the pseudonym ‘Lou-Elle James’ had been a member of the ‘Things for sale in and around Romford areas’ group since 27 July 2018 and that she was a member of a number of other selling groups including “Things for sale in Barking and Dagenham and local areas” and “Loughton Bargains”. She was also a prolific seller on Whatsapp.
TM Eye Director David Mckelvey said, “This Online Seller was prolific and offered a vast amount of fake goods for sale over a significant period using a wide variety of social media. She ran a sophisticated criminal enterprise to avoid detection using a false name and public locations for sales. The TM Eye Online Investigations Team supported by the Dedicated Undercover Unit have done an excellent job in identifying this criminal and bringing her to justice.
Should she re offend she will undoubtedly receive a custodial sentence.”