When Trading Standards officers searched a Leamington businessman’s premises after making a test purchase, they found more than 1300 counterfeit items among his stock.
And Bhupinder Sandhu pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of having goods for sale with a false trademark and one of supplying goods with false trademarks.
Sandhu, 34, of Moorhill Road, Whitnash, Leamington, also admitted two offences of breaching electrical safety regulations.
He was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years, ordered to do 280 hours of unpaid work, and disqualified from acting in the management of a company for five years.
Judge Anthony Potter also hit him in his pocket, ordering £212,967 to be confiscated from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act and for him to pay the £31,654 prosecution costs.
Sandhu, who the court heard it was anticipated will have to sell at least one property to raise the amount, faces two years in jail if he does not pay up – and will still owe the money.
And Sandhu’s business Partek Trade Ltd, which supplied replacement parts for electronic goods including mobile phones, was fined £1,000 after it also admitted the charges.
Ben Mills, prosecuting on behalf of Warwickshire Trading Standards, said an investigation into Sandhu’s business, which had a turnover of around £1.9m over a 30-month period, was launched in 2016.
It began in May that year with the test purchase of a Samsung Galaxy digitizer screen and a mobile travel charger via the ‘professional-looking’ Partek website.
The two items were then sent to Samsung who confirmed that they were not genuine Samsung parts.
So on August 26 a search warrant was executed at Sandhu’s home, from where he ran the business.
Several thousand mobile phone and tablet replacement parts and phone accessories were seized relating to 14 separate brands including Apple, Samsung, Sony and LG.
Of those, 1,325 items which had been imported from China and the Czech Republic worth £17,500 were found to be counterfeit – and which Judge Potter ordered to be forfeited and destroyed.
Mr Mills pointed out that the first charge related to the test purchase, and the other four related to 612 fake Samsung items, 312 bogus Apple items, 340 supposed LG phone parts and almost 600 counterfeit Sony items.
In addition some of the items did not meet the British Standards electrical equipment safety regulations, and when tested a USB connector and a travel adaptor were found to be unsafe.
When he was questioned, Sandhu said that 80 per cent of his sales were to mobile phone repair shops, and that he would order counterfeit products when genuine ones were not available.
And of the impact of what Sandhu was doing, Mr Mills added: “It’s not just the big companies which are losing out, but competitors who are doing things legitimately.”
Sentencing Sandhu, Judge Potter told him: “As well as genuine articles, you were selling counterfeit goods, over 1300 items which contravened the trade mark description of a number of companies.
“It is clear it was professionally done, and it was done so you could respond efficiently to requests for parts.
“I have seen the amounts you were spending when dealing with businesses in China and the Czech Republic, among others.
“You knew when ordering that if the company didn’t have genuine parts to supply you with, some of them would supply you with counterfeit products.
“That didn’t stop you dealing with them, and you put those items up for sale on your website.
“Your company was one with a large turnover, over a two-and-a-half-year period somewhere around £1.9 million.
“It is not suggested you set up the business to sell exclusively counterfeit items, or that counterfeit items made up the majority of your business. In my judgement, it was somewhere in the region of 10-15 per cent of the business, so a not insignificant amount.
“The evil of offences like these is that it enables those selling counterfeit products to undercut those who trade only in licensed products.”