A man involved with a £1.5m counterfeit toy operation in the UK has received a two-year jail term, suspended for two years.
Jonathan "Jonny" Kahn, 64, of Parkway, Golders Green, London, director of company Amazing Savings, was found guilty of 34 trademark offences involving the importation, storage and selling of about 256,000 counterfeit toys, including fake-branded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spiderman toys.
Many of the toys, which featured the Marvel, Hasbro and Viacom brands, were sold in high street shops in Blackpool.
Kahn, who had denied he was trafficking counterfeit toys, was also disqualified from being a company director for four years and was sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work.
"These figures are a reflection of the scale of the business you and your company were involved in," Judge Stuart Baker said. "You knew throughout or at some stage that you were buying counterfeit goods. You were informed by Trading Standards officers that some Spiderman toys supplied were counterfeit. Nevertheless, you continued to buy from him. I am unable to accept you honestly believed the toys which you supplied or continued to hold in storage were in fact genuine toys."
However, Judge Baker said given Kahn's good character, long period of honest and reputable trading and the likelihood of financial ruin as a result of the case, the sentence would be suspended, the Blackpool Gazette reported.
The case, believed to be one of the biggest Trading Standards cases in the UK, resulted from a tip off in 2015 that counterfeit Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were being sold in the Blackpool highstreet store B&M Bargains.
A Trading Standards investigation found that 252,841 bogus toys had been sold to firms in Blackpool and across the UK, with a further 19,783 toys in storage with the intention of being sold.
Although it was nearly impossible to distinguish the fake toys from the genuine items, it was understood that several customers had complained about the toys and had sought reimbursement, the Blackpool Gazette reported.
According to the case, when Kahn and his company agreed a supply deal with a store, genuine toys were sent as a sample but cheaper versions in bulk were then allegedly sourced via the black market, often originating from Asia.
When stock arrived, checks were not undertaken, it is was also claimed, while fake labels procured from a packaging firm listed the importer as being based in Spain.
Trading Standards had warned Kahn about the investigation and the dodgy nature of the toy supplier yet Kahn had continued dealing with the supplier.
During the investigation, Kahn denied knowingly supplying the fakes.
According to the case, Kahn and his main supplier from China – who called himself Eddie Wong – conversed over email, which the prosecution claimed highlighted Kahn's known involvement in the racket. In one email, reported by the Blackpool Gazette, Wong wrote: "We ask them to steal part of the goods for us around end of April," while in another he wrote: "Factory advises the item is brand new and going to start production shortly. So, we need to confirm the factory immediately and ask them to produce extra plastic parts for us at the same time."
Prosecutor David Traynor said: "The defendants must have known counterfeit toys were being supplied, and the Crown does not accept it was simply a failure to exercise due diligence."
A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place on 19 October.