Imitation game: man sentenced for selling counterfeit football shirts
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A man who sold counterfeit football shirts in the run up to the 2022 World Cup has been sentenced.
Matthew Hyett, 33, of Mill Street, Batley, sold counterfeit football merchandise from a market stall in Morley, West Yorkshire, and an online store. Officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police seized the items, worth an estimated loss to the industry of £70,000, during raids in October 2022.
Hyett pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court on 2 August 2023 to the acquisition of criminal property and distributing goods bearing a false trade mark. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 150 hours of community service at Leeds Crown Court on 30 August 2023.
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said:
"This sentencing sends a warning to offenders whose goal is to profit from criminal activity that their actions aren’t without consequences.
"We urge football fans to think twice before buying fake merchandise. An individual may think that when buying counterfeit goods, they are only affecting a multi-million pound brand but in reality, they could be helping fund criminal activity.
“Whatever savings customers may pocket when buying a counterfeit item are often offset by its poor quality and the risks that come from using a product that has been manufactured illegally.”
Officers from PIPCU arrested Hyett on 10 October 2022. They seized 1,674 counterfeit items, worth an estimated loss to the industry of £70,000, during search warrants executed at Hyett's stall and residential address.
During his police interview, Hyett admitted that he knew the shirts were counterfeit.
The search warrants took place during a period of enforcement activity coordinated by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and executed by officers from PIPCU ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
They seized four tonnes of counterfeit football merchandise, worth an estimated loss to the industry of half a million pounds, in a series of raids across the country. Six people were arrested for offences related to the distribution and sale of counterfeit goods, and £12,000 in cash was seized.
The remainder of those arrested were released under investigation.
Marcus Evans, Deputy Director of Intelligence and Law Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), said:
“Criminal networks continue to exploit the loyalty of sports fans for their own financial gain by targeting the market with illegal counterfeit products – with little or no regard for their quality or safety.
“This is anything but a victimless crime. Overall, it is estimated that the sale of counterfeit goods contributes to more than 80,000 job losses in the UK each year by diverting funds away from legitimate traders and into the hands of criminals. This helps to sustain criminal lifestyles, as well as causing genuine harms to those workers often exploited during their production.
“We welcome the actions taken to bring those involved in this type of criminality to justice, as we continue our work in partnership with industry and law enforcement to help protect the public and raise awareness of the damage counterfeits cause”.