NORTH Yorkshire trading standards officers have tracked down and stopped a £400,000 fake watches operation.

They confiscated nearly 1,000 fake watches that had been imported from the Far East intended for sale under fake trademarks.

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The businessman in charge of the operation, James Christopher Lum, has been sentenced for a string of trademark offences.

North Yorkshire trading standards revealed they made test purchases from Watch Cabin Ltd's website of watches advertised as being Emporio Armani and Hugh Boss watches.

But when they sent them to the two watch companies to have them checked, both turned out to be fake.

Then they tracked down and searched the distribution centre used by the company and Lum's home.

There they found 502 watches purporting to be Armani watches, 321 fake Hugo Boss watches, 79 fake Diesel watches and 26 fake Marc Jacobs watches.

Lum and Watch Cabin Ltd accepted that the watches had been imported from China or Hong Kong and had been sold without the authorisation of the trademark owners.

North Yorkshire trading standards officers said that had the seized watches been genuine, they would have had a value of £393,936.

They calculated that they would have been sold for £156,832.

Lum, 41 of Java House, Botanic Square, Poplar, London, pleaded guilty to two offences of attempting to sell goods bearing signs likely to be mistaken for trademarks without consent, and four offences of attempting to possess goods bearing signs likely to be mistaken for trademarks without consent.

His company Watch Cabin, of City Road, London EC1, was also before York Crown Court.

Sentencing Lum, Judge Simon Hickey said he had been trading since April 2014 and been warned in 2017 that his activities were illegal.

“That was a fork in the road but you carried on rather than close the business,” he told Lum.

He read a probation report and heard mitigation before passing sentence.

Lum was given a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work.. The company was ordered to pay a nominal fine of £1.

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Both Lum and the company will face asset confiscation hearings later this year under legislation aimed at preventing criminals profiting from their crimes.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Derek Bastiman, portfolio holder for trading standards said: “The sale of counterfeit goods is damaging not only to unsuspecting consumers who are misled, but also to the trademark owners and retailers who have worked hard, often over many years, to build a brand and establish a customer base.

"I would encourage residents only to buy branded goods from established outlets and to research the seller’s business and contact details and feedback before deciding to buy.”

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