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Fake England shirts seized in Black Country raid

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Fake England football shirts and memorabilia worth £250,000 has been seized in a raid in the Black Country, just hours before the World Cup begins.

More than 2,000 of the seemingly-flawless fakes, complete with real-looking branding, price tags and labels, were taken by trading standards officers from two houses in Wednesbury.

Officers at Sandwell Council said the copies were so good that even they were fooled. It was only when they scanned the barcodes that the shirts were revealed to be fakes.

Officers raided the two homes after a tip-off about the shirts being sold on Facebook for £20 to £30, while a real Nike England shirt could cost £90.

Also found were fake sunglasses and exercise equipment, and further investigations have since led to the interception of other deliveries of counterfeit goods such as imitation Ray-Ban sunglasses, Stone Island jackets and Beach Body gym equipment.

The haul is now being stashed in a secret council warehouse awaiting destruction or redistribution through charities, while three men are helping Trading Standards officers with their inquiries. No arrests have been made.

Councillor Paul Moore, responsible for Trading Standards at the council, today said fans would have struggled to tell the difference between the genuine shirts and the fakes.

"The quality of these fakes took us by surprise and it would be very difficult for the average person in the street to tell," he said. "We estimate that the sellers made £2,000 selling these just over one weekend.

"Needless to say the football shirts were in high demand as they were going for £20 to £30."

Sandwell's Trading Standards manager Bob Charnley said quite often factories where the real goods are made can be raided by gangs for the equipment needed to produce their fakes, making them appear real without thorough checks.

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