A Bridlington man has been handed a six-month custodial sentence – suspended for 18 months – as well as ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and costs of £1,000 for being in possession of fake identity documents and dealing in counterfeit clothing.
Darren Anthony Scott of Georgian Mews, Bridlington, was today sentenced at Hull Crown Court after pleading guilty at a previous hearing.
Investigations by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Trading Standards Officers revealed a network of sellers on eBay, all of which linked to Scott. These enquiries revealed the various selling outlets used nonexistent addresses and false names that appeared to be deliberately designed to make it difficult for eBay, the enforcement authorities and consumers to establish the true identity of the seller of the goods.
In March 2017, trading standards officers executed a warrant at Scott’s home address. The operation discovered a considerable amount of counterfeit clothing. This consisted of, amongst other things, coats, T-shirts, hooded tops and sweatshirts predominantly marked with Abercrombie and Fitch branding.
Electronic equipment obtained during the operation was later subjected to forensic examination. This revealed Scott had entered into considerable email correspondence with his suppliers in China. This was designed to ensure that the product he received was as exact a match to the genuine article as possible. If he thought he had received products that were poor copies he was quick to point this out to his suppliers. It was clear from this evidence that Scott had set out to weave a web of deceit around his business.
He had used false IDs to establish accounts and used addresses, which he knew no longer existed. The examination revealed him to be in possession of false passports and driving licences which he had used to open accounts.
Enquires revealed that Scott was achieving an annual turnover of approximately £20,000 which enabled him to achieve an annual profit of £10,000. He had been conducting his business for approximately seven years.
When interviewed Scott admitted that he had deliberately tried to deceive eBay so that he could evade their controls.
In sentencing Scott, his honour Judge Tremburg remarked upon the offending being sophisticated, that false addresses and names had been used with possession of documentation to facilitate a dishonest business. The mode of offending had made it difficult and time-consuming to detect with innocent purchasers being stung, struggling to get redress; overall, the offending undermining legitimate business interests.
Colin Briggs, trading standards manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “It is quite clear from the evidence that Scott knew full well what he was doing and set out to deceive his customers, the authorities and the online site eBay through which he sold his products.
“He used false names, addresses and user names to avoid detection. He was charging a price for his goods which was close to that of the genuine product. This made it almost impossible for a consumer to suspect the goods were counterfeit.
“This sentence sends out a clear message that the authorities will not tolerate businesses that trade in such a dishonest way.”