A man who flogged fake branded shoes and handbags to people on Facebook has admitted making unauthorised use of registered trade marks.
Thomas Martin’s conviction comes at the conclusion of a week long series in the Evening Post highlighting the work going on behind the scenes to prevent Lancashire communities being ripped off.
The 46-year-old’s activities first came to Lancashire Trading Standards’ attention when he was spotted advertising a black Prada branded bag on his wife’s Facebook for £15.
But despite being sent a warning on Facebook from Trading Standards he continued to sell the fake bag in a test purchase.
Prosecuting at Preston Magistrates’ Court, Nick McNamara said: “Sales of counterfeit merchandise on Facebook are a very big problem for trading standards and clearly the price made officers suspicious. So a message was sent to Mrs Martin’s inbox warning against selling counterfeit goods. The message was sent under the name of Lancashire Trading Standards Service so there could be no doubt who it was from and what it was about.
“A read receipt confirmed that the message had been opened, but seemingly it was ignored, so officers made a test purchase using a covert account. Arrangements were made to collect the purse, when Mr Martin was handed £15.”
Prada later confirmed it was counterfeit, and a raid was carried out at Martin’s home on Jemmett Street, Preston, with fake designer bags, purses, wallets, footwear and clothing seized from an upstairs bedroom.
A photograph shows how merchandise was displayed on a shelving.
The goods were submitted to various companies including Nike, Ralph Lauren, Chanel and Mulberry who confirmed they were counterfeit.
The court heard when Martin was interviewed he claimed he had bought the merchandise from a man in the pub for £250 but did not suspect it was counterfeit, and said he had not seen the warning from Trading Standards.
He admitted five offences.
Mr McNamara added: “If I tell you that the RRP of just one of the 11 pairs of Nike trainers seized was £90 to £95 and that a single Chanel handbag can be up to £2,000, you can quickly get some idea of the damage caused to legitimate manufacturers and retailers by this kind of trading.”
Defending, John Rimmer said Martin had formerly worked in the furniture trade but was unable to continue after suffering a heart attack.
Magistrates imposed a six week curfew, and ordered Martin to pay a £60 surcharge and £60 costs.