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One Direction T-shirt faker made £61,000

Sandwell | News | Published:

Fake celebrity t-shirts featuring the biggest names in pop including One Direction raked in more than £61,000 for a jewellery shop owner as part of a rogue printing operation.

The illegal merchandise was sold over the internet included bracelets and hoodies. They carried logos of stars including Jessie J, Justin Bieber, Little Mix, The Wanted and JLS.

Russell Potts was caught with the goods in a swoop carried out by Trading Standards officers at his pawnbrokers business Gold Direct Midlands Ltd, in Cradley Heath.

The director, who admitted seven counts of trading in counterfeit goods, was jailed for 12 months at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

He made more than 5,000 sales of the counterfeit goods.

The court heard how officers visited the premises armed with a warrant after spotting the items on sale on eBay and then carrying out a test goods purchase.

Along with counterfeit goods, stocks of blank t shirts, clocks and bracelets, computer equipment and documents were seized at the premises in High Street.

Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting, on behalf of Sandwell Council, said: "The defendant may have been operating a legitimate business concerned in the sale of watches and jewellery, but he was also operating a counterfeiting business from the same premises.

"We say that he was concerned in the making, selling and supplying of counterfeit clothing and other goods that were being produced to order in breach of various registered trademarks."

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Potts was rumbled when an officer bought a fake One Direction hoodie for £13.49 when a genuine top cost up to £29.99 and bracelets £15.

"Analysis of the defendant's eBay and PayPal accounts showed that he made some 5,236 sales of counterfeit goods worth £61,177. The loss to the trade mark holder is substantially more than at £171,073," Mr Jackson added.

He said when officers arrived they also found an Express & Star article dated December 2012 regarding a court case involving where someone was jailed for trading in fake goods, pinned on a wall.

Solicitor advocate Mr Stephen Hamblett, defending, said Potts set up the illegal activity when gold sales suffered a down turn in late 2010. He also owns 10 properties including a pub that he also runs and his businesses employ seven people.

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"His selling of items on eBay was not wholly fraudulent. There were items sold quite legitimately. When he saw the newspaper article he did phone the council to inquiry what he could or could not do. This operation was not hidden or disguised," Mr Hamblett said.

He added that the 43-year-old father, of Tresham Road, Kingswinford, had raised about £10,000 for charities and had taken part in the London and Paris marathons.

Judge Stephen Eyre QC jailed him for a total of 12 months. He must serve half before being released. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act he must pay the council £61,177. He was also ordered to pay £13,250 costs.

The trading of the counterfeit goods happened between 2010 and 2013.

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