A RUNCORN woman who received more than £55,000 from selling counterfeit goods online has been prosecuted by Halton Council Trading Standards.

Emma Harwood, of Putney Court, admitted being in possession of a pair of slippers and boots which bore trademarks similar to those of Ugg and Timberland.

The 43-year-old was sentenced at Warrington Magistrates Court on November 22 and was given a fine and court costs totalling £980.

Trading Standards found only two items of counterfeit goods when they executed a search warrant at her home in December 2016.

A Trading Standards spokesman said: “This was an unusual case in that such an extremely low volume of seized items wouldn’t ordinarily result in a prosecution.

"However evidence uncovered in a detailed online investigation confirmed that Harwood was involved in the sale of a substantial volume of counterfeit goods via five online social media accounts

“She sold a range of counterfeits including cosmetics, perfumes and sunglasses which, when genuine, are produced to strict safety standards.

“Counterfeit versions are not made to the same standards and risk injury to consumers.

“Cosmetics and perfumes can cause allergic reactions due to the poor quality of ingredients used, and counterfeit sunglasses provide little or no protection from harmful ultra violet rays from the sun.”

Officers discovered she had received £43,500 through the sale of the counterfeit goods in her personal bank account and a further £12,000 via her PayPal account.

Harwood pleaded guilty last month.

Magistrates took into account that she and other family members had suffered ill health when passing sentence.

Halton Trading Standards are pro-actively targeting Facebook and other social media sellers in the run up to Christmas.

Officers warn counterfeit goods sellers that they cannot hide behind social media accounts and will face face criminal enforcement action when they’re caught.

Computers, mobile phones and even vehicles can and will be seized.

Furthermore, sellers should consider the impact a criminal conviction will have on their private lives, employment prospects, ability to get holiday visas and their reputation with neighbours and the community.

Cllr Dave Cargill, board member for trading standards, said: “We have a duty to protect the residents of Halton and the health of all of its residents and so it is important that we prosecute those involved in the supply of counterfeit goods like Harwood.

“Hopefully this case sends out a clear message to these criminals that our Trading Standards Service is coming for them.

“It should not be forgotten that as well as a financial penalty, this individual will have to deal with the stigma and impact of a criminal record for many years to come.”

Anyone with information relating to the sale of illicit cigarettes or alcohol should call Halton Trading Standards hotline for alcohol and tobacco on  0151 511 8787.  

This is a reporting voicemail facility only and any information provided can be left anonymously. However, please provide enough information to identify those involved and if you want feedback your contact details too. 

All other trading standards matters can be reported by calling 03454 040506.