Retailers and wholesalers are increasingly being targeted by sophisticated scams involving counterfeit stock, Trading Standards officials have warned.
The warning came after one of Scotland’s largest cash and carry outlets was fined £1,500 for selling counterfeit goods.
Mohammad Ramzan, MD of United Wholesale Grocers, pleaded guilty to selling fake packs of Bold 2 in 1 at his Glasgow premises. More than 10,000 packets were seized by Trading Standards after a customer tip off.
As well as failing to wash clothes properly, the fake packs displayed an array of mis-spelt words, such as manufacturer P&G’s address in Weybridge, which was spelt ‘Waybridge’ and instructions were in Finnish.
Ramzan founded United Wholesale Grocers 30 years ago with his brother, Mohammad Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Central and owner of The Big 30 wholesaler United Wholesale Scotland. The two businesses are not connected. Ramzan said: “We bought the consignment in good faith from our buyer, who purchased it from a secondary source.” Investigations into the origins of the packs are ongoing.
Ken Daily, manager of Trading Standards in Dundee, said: “The number of counterfeit goods entering the supply chain is on the increase, and this is a huge concern, as many of these products can be dangerous.
“Smaller retailers are at the highest risk, due to the increased number of supply chain steps.”
EU figures show the total number of counterfeit cases registered by HM Revenue & Customs across all consumer goods categories rose 12% to 22,311 in 2004 compared with the previous year, covering more than 103 million individual items. More than four million food and drink items were seized, an increase of 197%.
Ruth Orchard, DG of the Anti Counterfeiting Group, said: “Washing powder is not even the tip of the iceberg, almost every consumer good is now open to counterfeiting.”
There has been a fivefold increase in the number of fake products in the past five years, which, said Orchard, was driven by the crime being low risk with “insignificant” sentences.
The ACG is lobbying for broader use of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which significantly increases penalties.
Gaelle Walker