Facebook fakes: Sunderland woman’s online fraud racket busted in hair-straighteners sting

Victoria Trott
Victoria Trott
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A mum who ran a counterfeit goods company which advertised through Facebook has been spared jail.

Victoria Trott was collared after trading standards officials made a test purchase of some GHD hair straighteners over the social networking site and found them to be fake.

Newcastle Crown Court heard when her home was raided investigators found clothes, electrical goods and fashion accessories, all bearing designer logos, which were rip-offs.

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty to 13 charges of unauthorised use of a trademark by offering or exposing for sale goods bearing a false trademark at her home at Redesdale Road, Red House, Sunderland.

The charges, brought by Sunderland City Council’s trading standards department, relate to counterfeit items branded Beats, Mulberry, GHD, Chanel, Michael Kors, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Barbour, UGG, VOI, ICE and Superdry.

The illegal items range from headphones and hair-straighteners to clothing and fashion accessories.

Prosecutor Ros Scott-Bell told the court: “The prosecution say this was a commercial enterprise, albeit it looked like it was at its early stages.

“The value of the items, had they been genuine and sold legitimately, was over £90,000.”

Trott pleaded guilty on the basis her main customers were friends and family although prosecutors found a parcel ready to be posted to a customer in London when her home was raided.

She confessed in interview she had spent £4,300, most of which she had borrowed, during two trips to Manchester to buy the counterfeit goods, which she planned to sell for profit.

Trott had initially denied knowing the goods were fake when she bought them.

Mr Recorder Philip Kramer sentenced Trott, who has never been in trouble before, to six months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with supervision.

The judge told her: “It is quite clear you thought it would be a good idea to use the internet to start a business selling goods to the public which were counterfeit, hoping the public would think they were getting a bargain, which they clearly were not.”

Shaun Routledge, defending, said it was a newly established set up and there was no evidence of any previous sales.

Mr Routledge added: “Rest assured, this woman will never commit offences in future.”

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for City Services, Coun Michael Mordey, said: “Sunderland City Council’s Trading Standards team enforces consumer protection laws in order to protect the public and businesses in the city. For example, the sale of counterfeit goods such as clothing, scents or perfumes, could have a negative impact upon jobs with local retailers of the legitimate items.

“The team also tackle the sale of other counterfeit goods, such as tobacco and alcohol which, as well as damaging the national economy through the avoidance of taxation, can lead to the greater use of potentially harmful products, including by children.

“And, perhaps most importantly, illegitimate products are far less likely to be safe to use than normal goods and we need to protect the public from harm. On behalf of residents and business across Sunderland, the City Council notes the outcome of this case.”