Border officers seize £1.6m of fake goods

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The Independent Online

Dangerous fake hair straighteners and counterfeit football shirts were among goods worth more than £1.6 million seized by UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers, it was revealed today.

The agency seized £1,646,173 of counterfeit goods coming into the country in just four months from 1 April.

The fakes seized by UKBA officers, who are based at East Midlands Airport, include England football shirts, GHD branded hair straighteners, designer watches, handbags, shoes and cigarettes.

A spokesman said the popular hair straightener and cigarettes were made with potentially dangerous materials.

The previous four months' seizures have nearly topped the total amount of fake imports intercepted by officers over the previous whole year.

Between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, £1,674,665 of counterfeit goods were seized compared to just £28,492 less but in just a third of the time this year.

Today a UKBA spokesman said officers worked closely with key manufacturers to identify illegally-produced imitations imported into the UK.

He said the recent blitz saw officers work around the clock to disrupt and detain the fake, and sometimes dangerous, goods before they could be sold to unsuspecting members of the public.

The operation even saw some Tamiflu tablets - thought to be fakes - seized and examined but they were later found to be real, the spokesman added.

Jim Jarvie, deputy director for the UK Border Agency Central Region, said: "Smugglers are only out to make a profit by cheating British taxpayers and undercutting honest local traders.

"People who are tempted to buy these cheap copies don't realise that the profits made by smugglers are often ploughed straight back into other criminal activities such as drug smuggling.

"Our officers will continue to root out those criminals who attempt to smuggle goods illegally into the UK.

"We are disrupting this illegal trade and bringing those responsible before the courts.

"Many people enjoy finding a bargain but counterfeit goods which end up in markets, car boot sales and discount stores are just the tip of the criminal iceberg.

"Quite simply, if something appears too good to be true, it is."