Alert issued over £400,000 fake handbags con

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People are being urged to be on the lookout for fake goods after a number of cases where people were conned into buying counterfeit items, including Mulberry handbags.

Officers are urging people to beware of buying and selling counterfeit goods following a number of cases including a prosecution by North Yorkshire trading standards officers at Teesside Crown Court against a woman who sold fake designer handbags.

Fiona Taylor, of Newton on Ouse, near York, but formerly of Linton, near Wetherby, banked more than £400,000 selling handbags through parties in people’s homes with customers believing they were buying genuine factory seconds. Taylor told her customers she had bought the bags from a contact at the Mulberry factory in Somerset, but she was sourcing them from China.

When the bags started to fall apart some of Taylor’s customers took them to a Mulberry shop in York where they learned the bags were fake. Some customers then contacted North Yorkshire trading standards chiefs.

Taylor, charged with 14 offences of possessing and selling fake Mulberry and other handbags, was given a three-month prison sentence suspended for two years for each offence to run concurrently and a 200-hours community penalty.

Trading standards officers say the internet is of particular concern as there are not only increasing numbers of fakes being sold through social media as well as online auction sites, but it also makes it easy for people to become drawn into buying fake goods from China or elsewhere and sell them on.

Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire County Council’s member for trading standards, said: “Anyone tempted to think that they can make a quick profit by doing this should be aware that the maximum penalty for selling fake goods is 10 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine for each fake item sold or in possession for sale.”