TRADING standards watchdogs are sending out a strong message to social networking site fraudsters: “Stop or face court action”.
The warning has been issued by Hartlepool Borough Council after it has received a number of complaints about town-based people selling counterfeit goods on Facebook and other similar sites.
Popular counterfeit items include Ugg Boots, Adidas clothing and Beats Audio headphones.
The standards chiefs also say that not only are such items often of substandard quality but counterfeit electrical products such as hair straighteners could be dangerous.
Ian Harrison, senior trading standards officer at the council, said: “Those people who are currently breaking the law by supplying illegal goods on Facebook and other online sites are subject to the same rules as high street traders.
“Just as you would not expect to see counterfeit goods in shops, they should not be appearing on people’s Facebook pages either.
“We have received a considerable amount of information lately in relation to people who are clearly supplying such goods and those people are currently being investigated.
“It is not fair on the honest traders that the market is being flooded by cheap, inferior quality products.
“I would urge those who are selling to cease doing so immediately. There are a lot of people who do not like to see others profit by such activity and therefore the chance of you being found out is high.
“The scale of the problem has resulted in our officers focusing more on social networking sites.
“People suspected to be engaging in such activity will be approached.
“Those found to be doing so will have their goods seized and could face prosecution. Under the Proceeds of Crimes Act, their homes and possessions could even be at risk.”
Trading standards officers have appealed for anyone with information about counterfeit sellers to call them in confidence on (01429) 523362.
Anyone who feels that they have been conned into buying counterfeit or substandard goods can obtain consumer advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 4040506.