Plymouth businessman made £34,000 selling fake shirts
A CITY businessman made £34,000 in just three months by importing cheap fake football shirts from Thailand and selling them online.
Timothy Craig, aged 32, set up websites called Football Shirts Direct and Football Shop, from which he sold the cheap replicas for up to three times what they were costing him to import.
Trading standards officers found a stock of shirts when they raided his home on the edge of Dartmoor and later retrieved a holdall with £2,800 cash from his loft.
Consumer watchdogs were flooded with complaints from all over the country from fans and parents who bought the Liverpool and Manchester United shirts only to realise they were cheap fakes, a court herd yesterday.
Records on Craig's computer showed he carried on his business after the raid and made total profit of more than £50,000, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Craig, now of Wall Street, in Devonport, but formerly of Grenofen Close, Grenofen, and O'Meara House, at Leg'o'Mutton, near Tavistock, admitted eleven offences under the Trademarks Act. They alleged he sold or advertised counterfeit football shirts and failed to disclose all his financial details.
He was jailed for four months, suspended for a year and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid community work by Judge Barry Cotter, QC, who ordered the forfeiture of his realisable assets of £8,471.
The judge told Craig: "Your customers paid a considerable amount of money and what they received was not the real item. This was deliberate and sophisticated dishonesty and you knew exactly what you were doing.
"Economic theft of this sort not only acts against the true owners of the brands but strikes at consumer confidence. There was real loss to real people.
"Just because this is not burglary or theft does not mean it is not a serious criminal offence. You may consider you are lucky to avoid immediate custody."
Nigel Hall, defending, said Craig had started selling a small number of shirts on e-Bay as a hobby and the business had grown. He had not realised that he was committing a serious criminal offence in this country and had suffered more than two years of anxiety over the case.