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18 July 2012, 09:57 | Updated: 18 July 2012, 10:04
Fake designer handbags, scarves and shoes worth an estimated £2.4m have been seized by Border Force at the Port of Felixstowe.
The shipment of counterfeit items, which arrived at the port from China, featured a range of designer names including Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel.
The bulk of the load was made up of approximately 400 fake Hermes handbags. The genuine product retails for around £4,000 per bag in the shops.
Charlotte Mann, from Border Force, said:
“The handbags had been shipped without the Hermes fittings attached and therefore not breaching copyright. However, a search of the container found a handful of bags full of the missing metal fittings, which were clearly intended to be attached at a later date.
“Cheap counterfeits undercut honest traders and leave shoppers with goods that are at best inferior to genuine products and at worst, harmful or unsafe. It can also see unscrupulous importers attempt to avoid duty and VAT, defrauding the UK taxpayer”.
Officers had picked out the container for further examination because of a discrepancy with the paperwork.
The counterfeit goods had been sandwiched between layers of non-branded handbags. Boxes marked with a large letter A contained counterfeit shoes and those marked with a circle round the importer’s name held counterfeit handbags.
After suspected counterfeit goods are detained by the UK Border Agency, the companies who own the rights to the authentic products are contacted to verify that the items are fakes. The company then decides whether to prosecute the importer. After this process is complete, the goods are then destroyed.
The goods were detected at the end of May and the rights holders have now confirmed the items are fakes.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call the hotline 0800 59 5000.