December 9 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 4, 2013
Trading standards officers have carried out four raids across Ipswich targeting suspected black marketeers selling counterfeit goods on the internet.
The operation, codenamed Whirlwind, led to three people being arrested over what is believed to be a cottage industry primarily offering counterfeit designer clothing for knockdown prices.
It is understood the suspects – two men and a woman – are connected to each other.
It is estimated the total value of replica clothing sold that investigators are aware of is somewhere in the range of £25,000 to £30,000.
Co-ordinated raids on homes in Clifford Road, Newton Road, Bramford Lane and Eustace Road took place at around 8am yesterday.
Another warrant was also carried out at a fifth property in Witham, Essex.
The inquiry revolves around copied brand name t-shirts and other clothing purporting to be made by companies such as Superdry, Ralph Lauren, and Polo, which has been put up for sale on the web. Replica Ray Ban sunglasses are also said to have been sold.
Various sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook are understood to have been used to sell goods. Money is also alleged to have been laundered through eBay and Paypal.
The sales tracked to date by trading standards officers are said to go back to last November. Operation Whirlwind began in April.
Police officers were also used to help execute yesterday’s warrants.
Two of the suspects – a man and woman – were arrested in Ipswich and taken to Martlesham police investigation centre for questioning.
The other male was arrested in Witham and taken to Braintree to be interviewed.
All are said to have been detained on suspicion of selling counterfeit goods and money laundering.
A spokesman for Suffolk Trading Standards said: “All the suspects have been interviewed and released on bail to a later date, pending further enquiries.
“Selling counterfeit goods is a massive issue for legitimate traders.
“The whole point of this is to maintain a level playing field. When someone is selling Ralph Lauren tops for £15 to £20 and yet in the shops they sell for about £60 it is a massive problem for genuine traders who are struggling in the current economic climate.”
Anyone with information about people dealing in counterfeit goods should telephone the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.