Firm and boss fined in crackdown on counterfeit toys
Counterfeit Frozen dolls, Minions yoyos and Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob jigsaws were among more than 9,000 items seized by Manchester City Council Trading Standards from a single wholesaler, Import Export Wholesale Poundline Plus.
The company and its manager Tommy Zheng were also fined a total of almost £6,000 when both parties pleaded guilty to trademark and safety offences at Manchester Magistrates Court.
Trading Standards officers first visited the firm at 59b Derby Street, in the Strangeways area of Manchester, on July 5, 2016.
The visit came after incorrectly labelled products from the business were discovered at another retail outlet in the city.
Officers suspected that many of the products they found did not meet safety standards and that some may have been counterfeit.
Tests revealed a number of problems with the items including high levels of phthalates, which are toxic if ingested, detachable small parts that could be a choking hazard and plastic materials that were too thin and could cause suffocation.
Once the test results were received a further visit was carried out on September 19, 2016 when further items were removed. In total over 9,494 articles were seized.
Import Export Wholesale Poundline Plus was fined £1,400 and ordered to pay costs of £3,107 and a victim surcharge surcharge of £140 when the case appeared before Manchester Magistrates Court on Thursday, September 7, 2017.
Zheng was ordered to undertaken 200 hours unpaid work and to pay £1,000 in costs with a victim surcharge of £85.
Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “Counterfeit goods that fail to meet safety standards pose a very real threat to the public and this case is particularly alarming as the items were intended for children.
“In this instance our officers were able to remove a large number of counterfeit and possibly dangerous toys from circulation before any harm was done but everyone should be aware of the risks associated with fake products.
“I hope the severity of the penalty demonstrates to traders just how seriously we take these contraventions. We will do everything in our power to prevent the distribution of these type of items.”