21 November 2022TrademarksMuireann Bolger

Police seize counterfeit England World Cup shirts

Criminal networks ‘exploiting fan loyalty’ | UK Intellectual Property Office partners with City of London police to seize shirts, badges, and cash from multiple raids.

As the World Cup gets underway, the City of London Police’s Police IP Crime Unit (PIPCU) seized half a million pounds worth of counterfeit football shirts in a series of raids across the UK.

The unit confirmed the seizure in a statement released on November 18.

During the investigation, the officer arrested six people for offences relating to the distribution and sale of counterfeit goods, and £12,000 in cash was seized.

The raids formed part of a period of enforcement activity coordinated by the Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the PIPCU.

Marcus Evans, deputy director of Intelligence and law enforcement at the UKIPO, said:

“As football fans get ready to support their favourite team at the World Cup, criminal networks are seeking to exploit their loyalty for their own financial gain by targeting the market with illegal counterfeit products—with little or no regard for their quality or safety.

“We are pleased to support the intensified enforcement activity to clamp down on the sale of such illicit goods, working in partnership to help protect the public from this type of crime.”

Officers from PIPCU, supported by colleagues from the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (NWPIPCU), searched four premises in Leeds and seized a large quantity of counterfeit England shirts, FIFA World Cup badges and £2,000 in cash.

In Sheffield, officers seized counterfeit football shirts from a storage facility and £10,000 in cash from residential premises. The merchandise found in Leeds and Sheffield is thought to be worth an estimated loss to the industry of £250,000.

A further £250,000 worth of counterfeit shirts were seized during raids in Bristol and Northampton.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Hussey, from the PIPCU said: “The increased demand for merchandise from fans who want to show support for their team makes major sporting events like the World Cup a lucrative opportunity for counterfeiters.

“We regularly see links between the counterfeit goods trade and organised criminal groups. Counterfeiting is one of the primary methods used by these groups to make money, and enables them to fund serious offences such as drug trafficking and money laundering.

“We would always urge fans to think twice before buying fake merchandise, and will continue to work with our partners to take action against those who sell it.”

Those arrested have since been released under investigation.

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