Scammers escape jail after making £400,000 selling fake designer underwear | UK Newsthedigitalchaps


The trio were sentenced at Southwark crown court (Picture: PA)

Three men have been handed suspended prison sentences after they made nearly £400,000 selling fake designer underwear.

In total the trio sold more than 18,500 pieces of counterfeit underwear and just over 8,100 counterfeit designer t-shirts from October 2015 to August 2017.

In March 2017, a legitimate brand issued a cease and desist notice to an eBay account called ‘FANCY_INDEX’, which was selling fake luxury underwear.

The brand received an email from a man named ‘John S’, who claimed he lived in India and sold the underwear online to supplement his income, but did not know that it was counterfeit.

The counterfeit underwear was removed from sale and, a few days later, the name of the eBay account was changed to TRUE.STYLES.

However, the legitimate brand identified that the account had resumed selling counterfeit underwear in July and the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police started investigating in September.

Officers at the unit found the eBay account had made £249,327 from selling fake underwear, and £144,914 from fake t-shirts, racking up a total of £394,241.

Over the nearly two-year period, the eBay seller made payments into two bank accounts – one owned by Bashir Elsawahli and the other owned by Guncha Elsawahli.

More payments were then transferred from the Elsawahli’s accounts to Pathum Percy Ponweera Arachchige Don.

PIPCU officers executed two search warrants in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, in December 2017 and arrested Bashir Elsawahli.

They seized 2,383 counterfeit garments and Bashir Elsawahli’s mobile phone and laptop, which further linked him to Don.

During his police interviews, Bashir Elsawahli stated that he believed that all of the counterfeit clothing was genuine. He said Don ran the eBay account, and controlled the bank accounts and payments associated with it.

Don and Guncha Elsawahli answered ‘no comment’ to all questions asked during his police interview.

Don was found guilty on September 27 of this year of the unauthorised use of a trademark, following a trial.

At the same trial, Bashir Elsawahli and Guncha Elsawahli pleaded guilty to the unauthorised use of a trademark and transferring criminal property.

All three were sentenced at Southwark crown court on November 10:

  • Pathum Percy Ponweera Arachchige Don, 36, of Talwin Street, Tower Hamlets, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
  • Bashir Elsawahli, 44, of Fleetwood, Letchworth Garden City, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, and must complete a 10 day rehabilitation activity requirement. 
  • Guncha Elsawahli, 45, of Fleetwood, Letchworth Garden City, was handed a 12 month community order and must complete 75 hours of unpaid work.  

Detective Constable Geoff Holbrook said: ‘Despite being aware that selling fake goods to the public is against the law, Pathum Don, Bashir Elsawahli and Guncha Elsawahli continued to operate an illegal business.

‘They went to great lengths to try and disguise the source of their income by transferring sums of cash through various bank accounts.

‘When their activity was discovered by police, the group didn’t admit what they had done.

‘Unfortunately for them, we had a large amount of evidence that showed they had earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from an illegal activity.

‘We ask the public to think twice before buying counterfeit goods.

‘Whatever savings that customers pocket when buying a counterfeit item are often offset by its poor quality and the risks that come from using a product that has been manufactured illegally.’

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