A CHESTER man made thousands of pounds from selling counterfeit phone covers on ebay.
Ian Clayton Swift, 44, of Elm Square, Lache, had created a profitable business, selling the fake items to customers on the website, under the name swiftgadget68.
Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards (CWaC) officers had conducted a sting operation against Swift after being alerted to the volume of counterfeit phone covers that were being sold under his trading banner.
Chester Crown Court heard yesterday that Swift, who pleaded guilty on December 3 to five counts of copyright infringement, had sold more than 2,500 of the counterfeit covers to ebay shoppers, bearing the logos of brands such as Coca Cola, BlackBerry, Adidas and Apple. When police and Trading Standards officers raided his home in May of last year they found 3,145 individual counterfeit phone cases stored in the living room and under the staircase.
Swift had been buying the fake items from a Chinese-based internet wholesaler DH Gate for about £1.50 and selling them on to customers for £5.99.
CWaC Trading Standards officers also intercepted a package meant for Swift from his Chinese suppliers containing another 500 bogus covers with an online retail value of more than £8,000. After being warned by ebay over his conduct, Swift continued to sell the items but was forced to distort the logos so not as to infringe copyright.
Defending Swift, Mr Christie told the court Swift was “unaware” he had done anything wrong.
He added: “Mr Swift has shown extreme regret for what has happened and attempted to rectify the situation when he was warned to do so by ebay.
“He ran a successful online operation, perfectly legitimately but realises that he should never have got into the business of selling these phone covers in the first place.”
The court also heard Swift had turned to selling phone gadgets online as a way of making end meets following an unsuccessful burger van venture.
Sentencing him, the Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards, said: “Regardless of whether you thought you were in the right or not, you just cannot go around infringing the copyright of companies.
“You are obviously an intelligent and resourceful man and it is a shame you have to appear before the court due to your ignorance on this matter.”
Swift was given a six month suspended sentence and ordered to pay costs of £2,564 to CWaC and £8,500 as a result of the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Swift was ordered to pay £3,719.06 within four months. If he fails to pay the confiscation order he will have to serve a default prison sentence of three months.
A CWaC spokesman said after the hearing: “Swift’s illegal trading was uncovered thanks to Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards’ pro-active E-commerce operation.
“This operation involves carrying out test purchases of items sold by businesses trading on ebay and similar websites to ensure they are authentic.
“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s case, which demonstrates our commitment to removing counterfeit goods from the market and sends out a warning to others who engage in this form of illegal trading that their activities will not be tolerated in west Cheshire.”