On Sunday 9 July Walsall Trading Standards officers took the lead in ‘Big Ben’ – a planned operation as part of an ongoing and co-ordinated campaign to rid Bescot Market of counterfeit items. They were joined by the Chair of the National Markets Group, brand representatives and West Midlands Police officers.
Brand representatives went into the market in the morning to scout out the level of unlawful activity on site and identified ten stalls that really stood out as warranting closer inspection.
In a scene reminiscent of Del-boy scarpering with his suitcase, most of the traders fled as the team approached the stalls and left their goods on site. The police made two arrests and stopped one vehicle from leaving the site – it was found to be full of counterfeit goods which were seized.
The brand representatives had provided a 40ft container for storing any seized goods. By the end of the day’s operation, the container was almost full, which highlights the rampant illegal activity proliferating at this market.
Goods seized included hundreds of fake Nike, Adidas, Stone Island, Emporio Armani and Boss clothing and trainers, dozens of Michael Kors bags and shoes, dozens of hats and caps, illicit tobacco pouches and cigarettes, Miss Dior perfume, make up, hoverboards, toys and games. Also seized were counterfeit badges such as Michael Kors in their hundreds, which would be used as part of the counterfeit manufacture of these goods.
Councillor Ian Shires, Portfolio Holder for Leisure Culture and Community said:
“I’m absolutely staggered that so many fake and counterfeit goods were seized from a small number of stalls. Unbelievably, officers have told me that, even as they were packing these fake goods away, members of the public were still trying to buy them.”
“Our Trading Standards officers protect both the public and legitimate traders from this illegal business. The counterfeit production and selling market is immense and often accompanied by far more serious criminal activity such as drug dealing, money laundering, gang related violence and weapons. By purchasing the counterfeit items, members of the public should be aware that their money may be funding all kinds of serious criminal behaviour.”
“If people buy fake goods then they face the prospect of not being able to get a refund if the goods are faulty or of unsatisfactory quality and some counterfeit products such as fake cigarettes or spirits can be unsafe.”