A DISHONEST trader made £2,000 in a month passing off dud clothing as designer goods on eBay.
Luke Geoffrey Baker, 24, set up his own shop called Dynamic Look on the online buy and sell site, where he advertised hundreds of ‘designer label’ polo shirts and jeans at discount prices.
He made more than £2,000 in a month before the site was closed down – because his fraud was rumbled and the goods were found to be cheap knock-offs.
A judge said that such offending had reached epidemic proportions and put the jobs of ordinary working people at risk.
High-end clothing brands Jack Wills, Ralph Lauren and G Star complained to council trading standards officials about Baker’s shop.
An officer from Flintshire County Council made a test purchase and bought G Star jeans - which normally retail at £90 – for £39.
But the jeans were confirmed as being counterfeit and a search warrant was executed at the Baker’s home in Lexham Green Close, Buckley, last February.
Baker told trading standards official Gareth Jones, who was accompanied by police, that it was ‘a good job you have got someone with you’ before he was arrested, prosecuting barrister Christopher Moss said.
A quantity of designer clothing, which was found to be bogus, together with computer equipment, was seized.
Baker admitted three trademarks offences but escaped an immediate prison sentence.
He received an 18 week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and he was ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work.
An investigation is now taking place under The Proceeds of Crime Act to see how much money, if any, can be confiscated.
The prosecution said that the potential loss to the genuine industry was £12,800.
Judge Niclas Parry told Baker: “You were prolific. You were deceiving not only the public but more importantly you were putting at risk the viability of large companies.”
The judge put to him: “Why does that matter? It matters because you put at risk the employment of ordinary people.
“This has reached epidemic proportions. There are huge concerns.”
It had to be custody, Mr Parry said, but he gave Baker maximum credit for his early guilty pleas. He had no previous convictions and he was still a young man.
“For all those reasons I can suspend the inevitable custodial sentence,” Judge Parry told him.
Mr Moss told how the Baker’s computer showed that he had exchanged emails with other eBay suppliers, which suggested that he knew the clothing was counterfeit.
One had replied to him to tell him to take care.
An examination of his eBay account showed that he had been placed under a seven day selling restriction and that listings for Ralph Lauren polo shirts had been removed by eBay.
Another eBay user, who had been supplying the defendant, provided a false invoice to him in an attempt to prove that they were authentic in a bid to get the eBay restriction removed.
Interviewed on March 15, Baker denied knowing that the stock was counterfeit.
The stock seized included 163 fake Ralph Lauren polo shirts - which represented a potential loss to the industry of £12,550 - and counterfeit Calvin Klein trunks, which represented a £288 loss.
Baker had sold 1,292 items, but it was impossible to determine how many, if any, of those had been counterfeit, Mr Moss said.
He had set up the shop in February of this year, it operated for a month before it was closed down, and he had made a profit of £2,002.
Henry Hills, defending, said that he would not mitigate when the judge indicated that he had a suspended sentence in mind.
After the sentencing Cllr Kevin Jones, Flintshire’s Council’s cabinet member for public protection said: “This should go out as a warning to anyone who thinks that selling counterfeit goods is an easy way to make money.
“This kind of crime affects everyone, the consumers who have been fooled into buying these goods and the local businesses who comply with the law and sell genuine products.
“If anyone is aware of people selling counterfeit goods they should report it Flintshire Trading Standards Service and it will be investigated.”