A shop owner caught red- handed selling illicit tobacco to an undercover officer on the street has been fined.
Trader Imdad Rajput, 34, locked his shop and made the undercover Trading Standards officer wait outside, reappearing moments later with a pouch of counterfeit Golden Virginia tobacco kept in a nearby property.
Rajput, who runs the Quick Shop on Ribbleton Lane, Preston, pleaded guilty to possessing counterfeit tobacco and selling counterfeit tobacco.
Prosecuting at Preston Magistrates’ Court, Nick McNamara said four pouches of counterfeit tobacco were seized during a visit at the shop in May last year, which Rajput claimed were for his own use.
Two months later, a test purchase was carried out in which an undercover officer asked for “cheap” hand rolling tobacco.
Mr McNamara said: “He took the purchaser out onto the pavement, locked the door, went into an adjacent property and came out with it. The sale of counterfeit tobacco is to be widespread in Lancashire.
“It not only presents unfair competition to legitimate retailers but makes smoking affordable, undermining price policies to try and persuade people to quit.”
Rajput, who represented himself, was fined £260 and must pay £384 costs and a £20 surcharge.
He said: “It was my first and last mistake - I will never do it again.”
The test purchase coincided with the Evening Post’s Don’t Let Them Make A Packet campaign, which aims to highlight the threat to communities by the illicit tobacco trade and its links to organised crime.
To report dealers call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.