Dorset County Council’s trading standards service is warning the public about the potential dangers of buying goods on line, following the successful prosecution of three people selling counterfeit Pandora beads on eBay.
Roger John Loriot (51) and Deborah Reed (51) of Meech Way, Charlton Down, Dorchester and Gail Critchell (50) of Holmead Walk, Dorchester all appeared before Weymouth Magistrates on the Monday, 7 July following an investigation by trading standards officers.
In November 2012, test purchases were made from two eBay accounts of charm beads described as ‘Pandora’. They were advertised at £11 each, whereas the normal price for Pandora beads is around £30.
The court heard that warrants were executed on Mr Loriot’s and Miss Reed’s property in Charlton Down and 107 beads were found, and in Miss Critchell’s property in Dorchester 42 beads were found. These were sent to the trademark holder who confirmed them as being counterfeit copies. In both cases a number of different accounts were being used to sell the items through. Checks on these accounts revealed that in the period between October 2011 and July 2013 Mr Loriot and Miss Reed had made in excess of £41,000 in sales of Pandora beads. For a similar period Miss Critchell had made £5,600 worth of sales. All of the beads were sourced from internet sites based in China.
Three different types of beads from the seizures were sent to the Birmingham Assay Office for testing to check for compliance with European safety legislation covering jewellery. These tests revealed that all the beads failed, as they exceeded the maximum permitted release of nickel, in the worse case by more than 12 times. The court was told that nickel release was limited in items that come into prolonged contact with the skin, as excess levels can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
Following guilty please by all of the defendants Mr Loriot was fined a total of £250, with £775.80 costs and a £25 victim surcharge, Miss Reed was fined £130 with £775.80 costs and a £20 victim surcharge and Miss Critchell was fined £160 with £1112.80 costs with a £20 victim surcharge.
Neil Martin, principal trading standards officer for Dorset County Council, said: “People should always be cautious when buying items online. Generally if the price is too good to be true there is a reason for this. Not only do you run the risk of buying counterfeit goods but on occasions these can potentially be dangerous.”
Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for community services, Cllr Colin Jamieson, added: “These beads were not the real thing, and could have presented a health risk to some people. We have a duty to protect the public, and will always take action in these situations.”
Anyone who suspects they may have bought counterfeit goods on line should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06. This is the first point of contact for any consumer complaints requiring investigation by trading standards officers.