Border Force crackdown sees £3m of fake goods kept off Christmas shelves
One sting alone in London saw 1,300 counterfeit luxury scarves captured, thought to be worth close to £1 million.
Almost £3 million worth of fake luxury scarves, jackets and headphones were prevented from hitting shop shelves in the run-up to Christmas by the Border Force.
According to the Home Office, at London Gateway Port alone 1,300 imitations of Chanel, Burberry and Gucci scarves – worth an estimated £904,775 – were captured by vigilant staff since November.
Security Minister Brandon Lewis said the seizures meant Christmas profits would remain in the hands of shop owners selling legitimate goods.
“These seizures show how effective Border Force officers are in cracking down on criminality across our ports, airports and mail hubs to keep fake, counterfeit goods out of the country,” said the former Conservative Party chairman.
According to security officials, approximately 850 fake bags and pairs of trainers made in China – purporting to be Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Nike, Champion and Converse – were seized at HM Revenue and Customs’ inland pre-clearance centre in Milton Keynes.
The haul was thought to be worth at least £840,000.
Another 3,400 items of bedding, valued at close to £300,000, were spotted by eagle-eyed inspectors at the same clearance centre 50 miles out of London, with the garments marked with Gucci, Versace, and Chanel logos despite not being the real deal.
Another £778,000-worth of headphones were intercepted in Milton Keynes, with Border Force staff discovering 5,200 counterfeit Dr Dre Beats headphones and Apple earphones.
Rip-offs of the popular North Face jackets, along with unofficial Levi t-shirts and Lyle & Scott jumpers – an estimated collection of 130 items worth £6,000 – were confiscated at London Gateway and more than 200 fake Estee Lauder skincare sets were seized at Heathrow Cargo.
All the seized counterfeit goods originated in China, according to the Home Office.
Mr Lewis said: “This Government is committed to cracking down on criminals and the trade in counterfeit goods.
“People who deliberately purchase counterfeit goods are funding and supporting serious and organised criminals and their illegal activity.
“The Border Force’s critical work protects legitimate business and ensures that smugglers do not profit.”
Once imitation products are detained, Border Force’s specialist international trade teams work with the owners of big brands to establish whether goods are genuine.
If they are fake, the goods are destroyed, and the rights holders must decide whether to privately prosecute the importers.
Consumers who believe they have purchased counterfeit goods are advised to contact Action Fraud, their local Trading Standards office or visit the Citizens Advice website.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to https://www.gov.uk/report-smuggling.