Counterfeit merchandiser sentenced thanks to Trading Standards investigation
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A Bristol businessman who sold counterfeit t-shirts featuring popular bands such as Motorhead, the Ramones and Blur was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday 5 May.
Andrew Minter, 55, of High Street, Wickwar, was found guilty of counterfeiting offences involving online sales of over 1,600 t-shirts bearing artwork for a number of well-known bands.
Minter pleaded guilty at an earlier court hearing to two charges under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and received his sentence today. He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and was given a three month curfew order. He was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £6,299.07 and to repay the benefit made from the crime to the tune of £24,729.72. The amount must be paid within three months or he will serve nine months in prison.
Minter’s activities came to light after a brand investigator discovered him trading on eBay and made several test purchases, all of which turned out to be counterfeit. The investigation was then taken over by South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards.
Officers executed a warrant on April 17 2015 at Minter’s home address in Wickwar and also at his business premises on Gloucester Road, Bristol, which resulted in a quantity of business documentation and counterfeit clothing being detained.
Investigations were also made concerning the eBay account that Minter sold the counterfeit products through, as well as an associated Paypal account through which payment was made. It was discovered that he had been selling counterfeit clothing online for approximately four years, during which time he had sold a total of 1,608 copied t-shirts, grossing over £17,000 in earnings.
The sales records revealed worldwide customers in Australia, Russia and the USA, as well as the UK. The products were sold for between £10 and £12 and other copied brands printed on the shirts included Keith Moon, Nirvana, Vertigo and Star Trek.
In interview Minter claimed that he had bought the counterfeit t-shirts from an unidentified man who came to his shop in 2011. He continued to purchase several more consignments from the man and always paid him in cash.
In court HHJ Picton agreed the t-shirt sales did not constitute a large scale operation, but they did constitute a significant number of items and sales which continued over a four-year period. He also ordered that all counterfeit stock that was seized by Trading Standards be forfeited.
Neil Derrick, Senior Fair Trade Officer for South Gloucestershire Council Trading Standards, said: “We welcome today’s sentence. The biggest penalty for Mr Minter is that he has to pay back nearly £25,000 or face imprisonment. Traders must be very careful about buying branded stock from unidentified sellers for cash, as counterfeiting is big business, but it is also a crime.”
Anyone wishing to report sales of counterfeit goods can do so in strictest confidence by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.
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