A Manchester company has been caught adding labels to bags and purses in an attempt to pass them off as designer goods by Mulberry, Chanel, Prada, Michael Kors and Vivienne Westwood.
The uncovering of a sophisticated counterfeiting operation, undertaken by Yoko’s Fashions, 54 Derby Street, Strangeways, has resulted in fines of more that £7,500 and the Company Secretary being sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid work at Manchester Magistrates Court on 28 February 2018.
In March 2016 Manchester City Council Trading Standard’s officers were asked by Greater Manchester Police to investigate suspected counterfeit items that had been found at Yoko’s Fashions.
The visit to the Derby Street premise revealed a manufacturing plant designed for the making up and distribution of counterfeit goods. Officers also discovered a back room containing handbags and purses along with fake designer labels ready to be added to the items as well as Michael Kors purses next to equipment for applying labels.
Counterfeit jewellery was also found in and around the counter area on the shop floor. These goods included Cartier bangles, Hermes bracelets and Bulgari earrings.
More than 5,000 items were seized by Trading Standards from Yoko’s Fashion.
On the 19th January 2018 the company, Yoko’s Trading Limited, and the company secretary, Mr Liang Fang, both pleaded guilty to 17 offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994. Three of the offences related to the unauthorised application of a registered trade mark to goods and the remaining offences were for having in their possession goods bearing unauthorised trade marks.
At the sentencing hearing on the 28th February the Magistrates said they viewed this as “quite a sophisticated operation” where they had all the accessories for labelling the counterfeit goods.
Liang Fang, aged 38, of Matisse Way, Salford, was sentenced to 140 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £2,020 in costs and a £85 victim surcharge. Yoko Trading Limited were fined £3,400 and ordered to pay £2,020 costs. Forfeiture of all the good seized was also granted by the court.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “The sale and distribution of counterfeit goods may seem like a victimless crime but it can have very serious consequences.
“Low quality fake goods may not meet the required safety standards and put the public at risk, their sale hurts legitimate businesses and in the worst cases the proceeds of this trade fund other crime.
“This case is a prime example of the work we and our partners are doing to stamp out counterfeit goods in the city – but there is also a role for the public to play. Please remember if a deal seem too good to be true, it most likely is.”
Graham Mogg, Intelligence Coordinator at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) said ''The wholesale distribution of counterfeit goods undermines legitimate trade, places consumers at risk and takes money from the public purse.
“Direct action by the authorities in partnership with brand representatives as shown in these prosecutions sends out a strong message that counterfeiting is a real crime and will not be tolerated
“We would like to congratulate Manchester Trading Standards and Greater Manchester Police on their handling of these cases''