Counterfeit goods seized in Birmingham factory raid
A major counterfeiting operation has been disrupted after clothing and equipment worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were seized in a raid on a Birmingham factory.
As part of Operation Beorma, a joint initiative of the National Markets Group (NMG) and National Trading Standards (NTS), targeting the importation, manufacture and supply of branded and potentially unsafe counterfeit goods, warrants were executed at a residential address and commercial factory unit in the Handsworth area of Birmingham.
The operation resulted in the seizure of tens of thousands of fake labels ready to be applied to products as well as finished and unfinished garments. The haul, together with the manufacturing equipment is estimated to be worth more than £350,000.
The haul of fake designer clothing included brand names such as Chanel, Michael Kors, SuperDry, Nike, Adidas, North Face and Stone Island.
The raid, which took place on 27 August, involved officers from the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (Central England), Birmingham City Council Trading Standards and the West Midlands Police Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), who joined forces with the Anti-Counterfeiting Group (ACG) and brand representatives for the operation.
One van was seized from outside the residential address and a car containing counterfeit goods was seized from outside the factory unit.
It is believed that the goods manufactured at this factory would be supplied nationally to physical markets, retail shops and also sold via online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Sajeela Naseer, Head of Trading Standards at Birmingham City Council, said: “Trading Standards is completely focused on disrupting counterfeiting rings that that fuel organised crime. Such black market activities are a serious threat to the British economy in terms of lost profits and tax revenues and are linked to activities such as child labour and modern day slavery.
“These products may be tempting because they look like a bargain but Birmingham Trading Standards’ warning to consumers is to be careful when buying cheap, poor quality and potentially unsafe products or paying the full price for inferior, fake merchandise.
“National Trading Standards’ Regional Investigation Team will continue their investigation into the importers and suppliers of these products with the view to taking criminal proceedings against anyone involved in such illegal activity. If found guilty of offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, the culprits could face a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine or both.”
Graham Mogg, Intelligence Co-ordinator at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and chair of the National Markets Group, said: “This is an outstanding result and shows the benefit of a multi-agency partnership approach to removing counterfeit and unsafe goods off the streets of the UK. These products were destined for consumers visiting markets and car boot sales, as well as those shopping on-line and on social media, and places them at risk of harm as well as undermining legitimate businesses.
“The ACG and our members are proud to be supporting Op Beorma and are very grateful to Birmingham Trading Standards, the Regional Investigation Team and other partners involved in this operation.”
Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “This latest seizure is another significant result for Operation Beorma and the partners involved – which has saved in excess of £4 million in consumer detriment. We will continue to work together to clamp down on criminals who sell counterfeit goods to unsuspecting members of the public.
“We urge consumers to be vigilant – especially when purchasing online – and report any examples of sales of counterfeit goods by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”