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Couple plead guilty to fraud

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A couple that have been selling illegal Zippo lighters with licensed logos on, have been given suspended sentences.

James Humphreys and Paula Ellis both appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court on December 2nd and were ordered to carry out unpaid community work.

The couple, from Abergele both pleaded guilty to a charge of Fraudulent Trading under the Fraud Act 2006.

Humphreys was given a suspended sentence of a year along with 250 hours unpaid work, his wife was handed a lighter sentence of 36 weeks in jail and 200 hours unpaid work.

The business being run by the two was an online shop that sold many different lighters that were branded with many well known logos. Another business man raised the alarm when he suspected that the goods being sold were illegal.

The case was then brought forward to Conwy Trading Standards after customers showed photos of their fake goods. The logos included designed such as Dr Who, Apple and Chelsea FC.

The Zippo lighters that were being made weren’t only illegally displaying logos, but many of the companies that were being shown on the face of the smoking paraphernalia were in fact prohibited to be on there.

Hearing the case at Caernarfon Crown Court was Judge Dafydd Hughes, who expressed his disgust at the couple continuing their work despite being aware of complaints from brand holders. The fact that they knew their products were affecting the public, however they continued to sell the lighters was described as a cowardly criminal activity.

Judge Hughes said: “The general public are entitled to be protected from fraud and should be able to rely on genuine traders and articles.”

The pair were told of how their own mistakes made it worse for themselves. By ignoring any complaints they were receiving, they are seen to be condoning their own wrongdoings.

John Donnelly, Conwy’s Principal Trading Standards and Licensing Officer said: ”Trading Standards is about creating a fair and equitable trading environment.

“We want to see a level playing field for all traders. Enforcing trading standards is about protecting the legitimate operators from the rogue operators who offer sub-standard, low quality goods. Legitimate operators pay significant sums to use these brands on their goods, they can’t compete with those who operate dishonestly with the intention of ripping off the public.

“The losses incurred by the legitimate industry are passed onto every consumer and damages the economy of Conwy.

“We will continue to take robust enforcement action to protect the public and eliminate rogue traders within Conwy.”

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Becki Watson

Editor 2013/14

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