A County Durham man has been handed a suspended prison sentence for selling illegal goods on social media.
Anthony Ayre, 32 of Blackhall, County Durham, advertised devices which allow TV viewers to illegally watch Sky, BT and other subscription channels without signing up on Facebook.
He also offered for sale a Sunderland football top and handbags, clothing and jewellery purporting to be made by the likes of Nike, Michael Kors and MAC – all of which were later found to be fake.
Ayre, of Dene Road, was taken to court by Durham County Council for ten counts of breaching trademark and copyright laws and has now been given a six week suspended prison sentence.
Peterlee magistrates on Monday heard how the council was informed by a neighbouring authority in July 2015 of an individual from County Durham using Facebook to sell TV devices which were later found to contain illegal software which gives viewers access to subscription channels without having to sign up, and counterfeit goods.
These goods were being offered at a fraction of the retail price of the items they purported to be.
Investigations revealed that Ayre said he had TV boxes with all channels for £100 and could supply items including trademark handbags, purses, jewellery and make-up sets.
A search warrant was executed at the defendant’s home in November.
During the raid over 40 TV devices were seized as well as a number of suspected counterfeit items which were also found in the property and in Ayre’s vehicle, including clothing and jewellery.
The defendant voluntarily attended an interview and replied ‘no comment’ to most questions.
The TV boxes seized from Ayre’s home were examined by the regional trading standards Scambusters Team before being forwarded to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) for further assessment.
FACT found that the TV devices had the ability to access copyright infringing content from providers such as Sky and BT.
Contact was made with Sky which revealed that Ayre did not have a contract with the company and is not permitted to sell devices allowing access to content it owns.
Checks were also made with the holders of trademarks over a number of suspected counterfeit items seized from Ayre, all of which were found to be fake.
These consisted of items purporting to be a pair of Nike trainers, a MAC make-up set, Michael Kors merchandise consisting of earrings, necklaces, watch, purse and bag and a Sunderland football shirt.
Ayre pleaded guilty to the charges with the court hearing he is of previous good character.
The defendant was given the six week suspended sentence which will be in place for six months. He was also ordered to pay £200 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Owen Cleugh, the council’s head of consumer protection, said: “The sale of devices containing software enabling users to view subscription channels without the need to subscribe and counterfeit goods can have a detrimental effect on legitimate traders and industries.
“This case should act as a warning to anyone contemplating making a profit in the run up to Christmas by using websites such as Facebook, Gumtree and Shpock to advertise and sell illegal goods.
“We would urge members of the public to think long and hard before agreeing to purchases from such sites where you don’t know who the seller is and where you might be buying inferior goods or those which break the law.
“You should only buy any kind of goods from reputable, trusted sources where you know exactly what you’re getting.”
To report suspected sellers of counterfeit goods, or for more information on your consumer rights, contact the Consumer Helpline on: 03454 04 05 06.