Five members of an extended family, Amar, Yasir and Qaisar Choudry of Duchy Crescent, Bradford, their brother Faisal Choudry of Duchy Drive, Bradford and their brother-in-law Mudasar Alishan of Oakdale Drive, Shipley, were today each sentenced at Bradford Crown Court to 2 years imprisonment suspended for 2 years. They were also ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. The sentence followed an investigation into the online sale of counterfeit clothing. A supplier of counterfeit, branded heat transfers to the family, Stephen Carr of Carr Lane, Riddlesden, Keighley was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, for his part in the conspiracy and must complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
The case was brought by West Yorkshire Trading Standards following a tip off by private investigators Surelock International who represent leading brands in the music industry. A 2 year investigation followed into an industrial-scale screen printing operation in which the registered trademarks of leading music artists, bands and sports teams were illegally printed onto clothing and distributed globally via eBay and Amazon. Using a number of eBay and Amazon user accounts in both their own and third party names including those of their family members, the extended family generated global counterfeit sales of £472,898.09 over a 5 year period. The printing took place at the family business YMC Clothing Ltd in Thornton Road Bradford which used the trading style ‘Fresh and Funky.’
The proceeds were then used to purchase a number of properties and high value motor vehicles. The trademarks breached included Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, Motorhead, Ramones, Beyonce, 5 Seconds of Summer, Harry Potter, Ed Sheeran and Nirvana as well as a number of others.
His Honour Judge Burn described the offending as a “well organised fraud with the backing of a legitimate company.” He commended the two investigating officers for their efforts in investigating the complex case.
Yasir and Qaisar Choudry were banned as directors of limited companies for 3 years. Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 proceedings will now be undertaken to recover the total extent of their benefit from their offending.
David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “the trade in counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime, it impacts directly on UK jobs and the high street, this Service will continue to bring to justice those individuals seeking to benefit from the theft of intellectual property and take away the assets accrued through criminal conduct. Anyone with any information about counterfeiting should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
Councillor Jo Hepworth, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards commented: “I fully support the action taken by trading standards in this case; counterfeiting is a crime which does serious harm, it generates a shadow economy undermining businesses, jobs and communities. This should serve as a warning to other traders who may be involved in any illegal activity.”