London operation nets £5m in fake goods

Police have seized an incredible £5m ($6.4m) worth of counterfeit goods from two shops on Camden High Street in London this week, making three arrests.

The operation by officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police follows what they described as a "sharp increase" in fake product sales in the area. Those arrested – who have now been released on bail – are under suspicion of distributing articles infringing trademarks.

In one shop, officers seized 2,487 counterfeit football shirts, jewellery and watches thought to be worth a loss to the industry of £3m. A further £2m worth of counterfeit handbags were found in the second shop. The seized items will be recycled.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Masterson of PIPCU said: "It can be tempting to buy a counterfeit designer product for a fraction of the cost of the real thing, but this can have a bigger impact than many people realise.

“Often, criminals use the profits from counterfeit goods to fuel other organised crime, which can have damaging effects on local communities."

The operation was supported by the City of London Police’s Proactive Crime Team and Support Group, and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), Camden Council’s Trading Standards, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group and Lighthouse Security.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) was also involved, engaging with members of the public on the risks of buying and using counterfeit goods, and how to identify them.

Marcus Evans, deputy director of intelligence and law enforcement at the IPO, said: “Criminals are targeting tourists and consumers in Camden for their own financial gain through the illegal trade in counterfeit goods, with absolutely no regard for the quality or safety of the items being sold."

He added: "This helps to sustain criminal lifestyles, and causes genuine harm to those workers often exploited during their production."

The IPO estimates that the sale of counterfeits contributes to more than 80,000 job losses in the UK each year by diverting funds away from legitimate traders and into the hands of criminals.

The operation took place a few days after PIPCU officers seized £500,000 in counterfeit World Cup shirts, as well as FIFA World Cup badges and badges, at premises in Leeds and Sheffield.

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