TM Eye detectives, working on behalf of Japanese Tobacco International (JTI), have today served criminal summons on three Chinese nationals living in Sheffield for Conspiracy to Distribute and Supply counterfeit tobacco products and packaging contrary to Section 1 of The Criminal Law Act 1977.
The prosecution follows a substantial UK wide surveillance operation by TM Eye’s Illicit Tobacco Team and the TM Eye Surveillance Team in September and October 2019.
Four premises in Sheffield were searched on 1st October 2019, by Humberside and Yorkshire Regional Organised Crime Unit and officers from Operation Fortify (South Yorkshire Organised Crime Unit). A working tobacco factory was found that was turning raw leaf tobacco into cut tobacco for illicit Fulfillment Houses across the UK. Within the Fulfillment Houses other gang members filled counterfeit tobacco pouches with the cut tobacco. These were then sold in wholesale quantities. The revenue loss is significant.
A linked Fulfillment House in St Loys Road, Tottenham in North London was raided by the Metropolitan Police and TM Eye detectives at the same time as the Sheffield raids. A large number of fake cigarettes, counterfeit filled and empty tobacco pouches, raw tobacco and ancillary products for manufacturing and distributing counterfeit tobacco products were recovered. The loss to H.M Revenue and Customs of seized goods from this single Fulfillment House was GBP 18.8 million.
The three defendants will appear at Sheffield Magistrates Court one 17th December 2019.
TM Eye’s investigation into the criminal network continues.
Natalie Green of Prestwood Drive, Collier Row, Essex appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court today charged with six (6) offences of selling counterfeit goods and possessing counterfeit goods for sale contrary to Section 92 of The Trademarks Act 1994. She pleaded guilty to all matters. The court has remanded the case until 7th November 2019 for reports.
The case was brought by TM Eye by way of a private criminal prosecution on behalf of its client HUGO BOSS and other well known luxury goods brands.
Green had previously been convicted by TM Eye. On 21st September 2018, she appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court where she pleaded guilty to four (4) offences of selling counterfeit goods and was sentenced to a £276.00 fine, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30.00 and order was made to pay a contribution of £1000.00 towards the prosecution costs (TM Eye Op 1831 refers). Despite this recent conviction Green decided to continue her criminality.
Covert test purchases were made from Green and other associates at various car boot sales in Essex and from a FACEBOOK site. The test purchases were carried out by the TM Eye Dedicated Undercover Unit supported by its in house surveillance team and took place on 30th June 2019, 2nd August 2019, 4th August 2019, 18th August 2019 and 11th September 2019. On each occasion counterfeit goods were purchased from Green who operated a substantial stall selling a wide variety of fake branded goods. All the test purchases were covertly filmed and formed the evidence leading to the prosecution and todays conviction.
TM Eye Director David McKelvey said,”Green is a prolific offender who completely ignored her conviction in 2018 and continued offending. The court will now decide on her fate.
TM Eye will ‘catch and conviction anyone who chooses to sell fake goods that damage our clients brands.”
ZABEOLA SAH aka SAFI appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 4th October 2019, charged with four (4) offences of selling and possessing counterfeit goods for sale contrary to section 92 of The Trademarks Act 1994. He pleaded guilty to all matters. He was sentenced to a 12 Month Community Order with a requirement to undertake 150 hours Unpaid Work. He was also required to pay £140 towards the investigation costs. The court ordered that all goods seized should be destroyed.
The case was brought by TM Eye as a private criminal prosecution on behalf of one of its luxury goods clients.
SAFI sold fake goods from a shop in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2. Detectives from the TM Eye Dedicated undercover Unit carried out test purchases of fake goods on 22nd May 2019, 29th May 2019 and 5th June 2019. Each test purchase was covertly recorded and formed the evidence leading to the prosecution and conviction. The shop was full of counterfeit goods that would have caused significant damage to the brands involved.
SAFI will now be required to attend a police station to have his fingerprints, DNA and antecedents taken for police indices.