A man from Havering, Essex Danny Alan Griffiths who used the pseudonym “Danny Lee’ appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court on 14th June 2019, charged with nine (9) offences of selling and possessing counterfeit tobacco and cigarettes for sale contrary to section 92 of The Trademarks Act 1994. He pleaded guilty to all nine matters. He was sentenced to a 12 month Community Order with 15 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (concurrent) and a £120 fine.
The case was brought by TM Eye as a private criminal prosecution on behalf of its client Japanese Tobacco International (JTI).
Griffiths sold fake Mayfair cigarettes, Amber Leaf and Golden Virginia tobacco. He sold other brands but these were not subject to any enforcement action or prosecution. He advertised the fake goods on a Facebook Group, “Things for Sale in and around Romford.” He had posted under the pseudonym Danny Lee “Who needs fags or baccy inbox me.” TM Eye’s Online Investigations Team made contact asking about brands and prices. He replied “Richmond, Mayfair, Amber Leaf, Golden Virginia £5 fags, £7 Baccy, 40 sleeves’. Detectives from TM Eye’s Illicit Tobacco Team supported by their surveillance team arranged a meeting on 10th January 2019, with the male in Standen Avenue, Hornchurch, Essex. Griffiths attended and sold an undercover detective from TM Eye’s Dedicated Undercover unit five (5) pouches of Amber Leaf tobacco (50g) and three (3) packets of Mayfair cigarettes (20) for £50.00. The purchase was covertly recorded.
TM Eye carried out further covert test purchases of fake cigarettes and tobacco from Griffiths on the 15th January 2019, the 17th January 2019 and the 23rd April 2019 at the same location. On the last occasion detectives from the Illicit Tobacco Team working with officers from Havering Police Local Community Team stopped Griffith’s in his blue Audi car and seized a black holdall containing sixteen (16) pouches of Amber Leaf hand rolling tobacco, eight (8) packets of Mayfair cigarettes and twenty-six (26) pouches of Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco. His correct name and address were obtained. TM Eye’s Illicit Tobacco Team then obtained a criminal summons and served it on Griffiths. The test purchase evidence resulted in the prosecution and conviction.
TM Eye Director David Mckelvey said,”I would like to thank the local policing team from Havering for their assistance in stopping and identifying Griffiths on 23rd April 2019. Griffiths was a prolific criminal selling fake cigarettes and tobacco across Essex.
These counterfeits often contain dangerous chemicals and products such as asbestos.
Griffiths now risks going to prison should he re offend”.
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.”