Thurrock Council’s trading standards team has completed a four-year counterfeit investigation involving five local people suspected of importing, manufacturing, distributing and selling counterfeit handbags, purses, clothing, perfume and accessories.
Laura Kim O’Keefe, 36, of Howell Drive, Corringham, Kimberley Mary Chalk, 41, of Rookery View, Grays, Toni Joanne Noonan, 45, of Oakway, Grays, Jacklyn Yuklin Grimes, 47, of Cample Lane, South Ockendon and Mohammed Musa Haydari, 37, of Great Galley Close, Barking were sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on June 30 after pleading guilty to various counts of selling and possessing counterfeit goods between January 2011 and December 2014.
Noonan also pleaded guilty to benefit fraud offences.
The five criminals received a total of 70 months suspended sentence and 700 hours unpaid community payback work.
Following raids back in October 2014, Thurrock Council’s trading standards team – working with colleagues from London and the police seized goods that could have netted the fraudsters more than £1 million.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill said: “This investigation began after complaints about the individuals and their activity through Facebook groups and pages. I’m particularly proud of the tenacity our team has shown, working alongside other agencies to ensure not only those individuals who we were initially made aware of were brought to justice, but the entire supply chain.
“An accredited financial investigator will now seek to recover the money earned from this illegal activity under the Proceeds of Crime Act and we will be seeking to recover our costs at the confiscation hearing in February 2018.”
Judge Ian Graham said it was a “significant and long-running enterprise” and it was clear that “large quantities of income and profit were generated”. He described Haydari as being “at the top of the supply chain” and “instrumental in the importation of these goods”.
When he addressed all of the defendants he said it was “clear that you knew what you were doing was illegal” and that previous warning “should have brought you all to your senses”.
Cllr Gledhill added: “The sale of counterfeit goods not only harms legitimate businesses but is often linked to other criminality.
These investigations would not happen, without the intelligence from the public. Please keep reporting rogue traders to the team by calling 03454 040506.”