THREE people from Dorchester were ordered to pay more than £3,000 in fines and costs between them after selling fake Pandora jewellery on online auction site Ebay.
Roger Loriot, 51, and his partner Deborah Reed, 51, both from Meech Way in Dorchester, together with Loriot's sister Gail Critchell, 50, from Holmead Walk, Poundbury, appeared at Weymouth Magistrates Court to admit charges of possessing, advertising and selling goods with a false trade mark in a case brought by Trading Standards.
They also admitted breaching REACH Enforcement Regulations due to the amount of nickel found in the bracelets.
Neil Martin, principal Trading Standards Officer at Dorset County Council, told magistrates an investigation was launched in October 2011 following complaints from people who had bought the counterfeit products from the trio.
The court was told the trio purchased fake bracelets, beads and charms from a website based in China for between £1.50 and £3 each and sold for a price of between £10 and £30 each time. Loriot used four different user accounts on Ebay to sell the items, with Reed using five accounts and Critchell using three.
Mr Martin told the court that after consultation with the internet auction site it was found Loriot and Reed earned £41,000 turnover between November 2011 and July 2013 from the sale of the goods, with Critchell earning £5,637 in the same period.
After conducting a test purchase and sending the items off for testing, it was found that the bracelets had up to 12 times the legal limit of nickel in them, which can cause severe allergic reactions, and were counterfeit.
Trading Standards then executed a search warrant, and found 107 fake Pandora beads, one bracelet and a glass and silver charm bead at Loriot's home address, with a further 42 Pandora charms and seven bracelets found at Critchell's home.
In mitigation, speaking for himself and on behalf of his partner, Loriot told magistrates he bought the items off a website based in China, and immediately removed the items from Ebay when he was told that they were counterfeit.
He said: “I am very sorry, ashamed and embarrassed about what has happened and I now realise the impact of my actions.
“When I bought the items, I was told that they were authentic returned items no longer needed for retail.
“Obviously, Trading Standards have said they were not genuine and I apologise for that but as far as I was concerned, I was buying genuine second hand items.
“I feel very stupid and annoyed for being taken advantage of in this way. I have been caught up in an internet scam.
“I am not a criminal, I have never committed a crime before and I apologise for my stupid behaviour and on my partner's behalf.”
All of the goods were seized by Trading Standards, and the trio were also ordered to forfeit any items they bought from the website.
Loriot was fined £250, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £25 and prosecution costs of £775.80, Reed was fined £130, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20 and prosecution costs of £775.80 and Critchell was fined £160, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £20 and prosecution costs of £1112.80.
Panel Neil Martin, principal Trading Standards Officer at Dorset County Council, said after the case: “This case has shown that if something appears too good to be true then it normally is.
“If you are looking to buy something from the internet, you have to take into account where the items are coming from and how much you are paying for.
“In this case there was a high level of nickel in the products and not in this case but in other cases across the country, tests done on counterfeit products have shown a high quantity of lead and that can be very dangerous.
“If people have suspicions about websites selling these items or if they have bought the products they should contact the Citizens Advice Bureau on 0345 040506, who will pass it on to us and we can look into it.”