AN internet trader who sold fake jewellery online for several years is beginning a 16-month prison term.
Desmond Fox, 45, was sentenced at Chichester Crown Court after an investigation by West Sussex County Council’s Trading Standards Service.
He pleaded guilty to 15 offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994.
They all related to the supply of fake Pandora, Links and Tiffany jewellery sold from his online business, and the subsequent seizure of £50,000 worth of stock discovered when search warrants were executed on his home and two other premises.
The investigation was launched after consumer complaints were received by Trading Standards.
Fox, of Albert Road, Chichester, had been trading for a number of years through a website and online auction site.
A financial investigation showed he had turned over approximately £145,000.
“This was selling counterfeit goods to consumers on a large scale”, said Christine Field, West Sussex County Council’s member for public protection.
“The judge made it clear this was a deterrent sentence, and I hope that others involved in these sort of offences will take due notice.
“Crimes like this undermine the legitimate business economy, and Trading Standards will always act to protect local businesses from being harmed, and consumers from being cheated.”
Sentencing, the judge made a forfeiture order for all the fake goods seized during the operation, some of which also falsely bore indications they were made of silver.
The judge said the offending was “professional” and “went on far too long”.
The Trading Standards investigation and jail term has been welcomed by genuine dealers in Pandora, Links and Tiffany products.
Gemma Clive, of Pressleys Jewellers, in Chichester, said: “The counterfeit jewellery trade makes the consumer especially vulnerable through misinformation and poor quality goods.
“This in turn leaves people disappointed with items that are often less durable, susceptible to breaking and lacking any kind of aftercare service should this eventuality arise.
“Clamping down on this will benefit both retailers and customers alike.”
Anyone who suspects someone is trading in counterfeit goods can report the matter to Trading Standards by ringing Citizens’ Advice Consumer Services on 08454 040506.
Alternatively, you can fill out a form online by visiting the consumer advice page at www.westsussex.gov.uk.