Counterfeit underwear sellers sentenced in UK

Three people in the southeast of the UK have been found guilty of selling fake designer briefs, boxers and t-shirts online, making almost £400,000 ($490,000) in illegal revenues.

Pathum Percy Ponweera Arachchige Don (36) of Tower Hamlets in London was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, along with 150 hours of unpaid work after being found guilty of unauthorised use of a trademark.

Bashir Elsawahli (44) and Guncha Elsawahli (45) of Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire pleaded guilty to the unauthorised use of a trademark and transferring criminal property, and were sentenced respectively to 18 months imprisonment (suspended for 18 months) plus 10 days of rehabilitation activity and a 12-month community order with 75 hours of unpaid work.

All three were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 10 November, after being found guilty in a trial that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The case dates back to 2017 when an unnamed brand raised a complaint about an account on eBay trading as FANCY_INDEX selling fake luxury underwear.

The brand received an email from a man named ‘John S’, who claimed that he lived in India and sold the underwear online to supplement his income, but did not know that it was counterfeit. The counterfeits were removed from sale but, a few days later, the name of the account was changed to TRUE.STYLES and selling resumed.

The case was referred to the City Of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) later in 2017, and investigations revealed that between October 2015 to August 2017, 18,567 pieces of counterfeit underwear were sold by the account – making almost £250,000, and 8,107 counterfeit t-shirts were sold for a total of around £145,000.

Transfers were made from the eBay account into multiple bank accounts owned by Don and the Elsawahlis.

Detective Constable Geoff Holbrook of PIPCU said: “Despite being aware that selling fake goods to the public is against the law, Pathum Don, Bashir Elsawahli and Guncha Elsawahli continued to operate an illegal business.

“They went to great lengths to try and disguise the source of their income by transferring sums of cash through various bank accounts,” he added. “We had a large amount of evidence that showed they had earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from an illegal activity.”

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