A fraudster who pocketed the proceeds from selling fake Royal British Legion Poppy and Help for Heroes pin badges has been handed an eight month prison sentence suspended for two years and told to pay prosecution costs of £1,650.
Hampshire County Council Trading Standards secured the conviction of Jay Meech, 28, of Old Road, Gosport who sourced and sold counterfeit pin badges depicting the emblems of Premier League football teams and the two registered charities.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Meech designed the pin badges, had them manufactured in China and shipped to the UK for him to sell via eBay and his website, ripping off the charities and football teams to the tune of £22,000 in turnover.
Following an investigation by Trading Standards officers, a warrant was executed in October 2013 and he was found to be in possession of more than 1,000 fake pin badges which depicted the emblems of several well known football clubs. Meech also had 5,849 Royal British Legion style ‘Poppy’ and 706 Help for Heroes ‘Medal’, pin badges. These pin badges, were confirmed, by the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, to be fake.
All the pin badges were of an inferior quality and had been manufactured and sold without permission from the football clubs or the charities.
Meech pleaded guilty to ten offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and was sentenced on Thursday 22 January. The court heard from the defence how Meech had recently paid £600 each to the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.
Sentencing Meech, Judge Roger Hetherington said: “You started off honestly trading legitimate badges, but at some point greed got the better of you because of the profit you could get by sourcing the badges from China which showed some considerable planning. This was a fraudulent activity which made you a sizeable sum of money.” Judge Hetherington added that had Meech not pleaded guilty, he would have imposed an immediate custodial sentence.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry said: “ It’s despicable that anyone could think of profiting to the detriment of two such worthy charities, particularly when we have been remembering the sacrifices of our armed forces now, and 100 years ago with the commemorations of the start of the First World War. “These kinds of criminal activities severely damage the local economy and legitimate traders by gaining a competitive advantage at their expense, and taking trade away from genuine hard-working businesses, and in this case charities. This conviction by our Trading Standards Service is an excellent example how positive, effective results can be achieved in the public interest through thorough and focussed investigations.”
Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards officers advise that consumers wishing to purchase football club pin badges or other memorabilia should buy them from official club outlets. Similarly, those that wish to purchase Poppy or Help for Heroes pin badges and want to ensure that 100% of the much needed money is received by the charity, should buy them direct from the charity websites or local fund raising teams.