Sentencing of fraudulent trader operating in Peterborough

Business / 14 Dec 2017

A sentence of three years was given yesterday (13 December) to a fraudulent trader, Terrance Donovan, who operated in the Peterborough area.

Following a number of consumer complaints the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Trading Standards team mounted an investigation into the trading practices of Terrance Donovan (58), of Griffiths Court, Peterborough, following allegations that he was importing and selling large quantities of counterfeit designer merchandise featuring brands such as Rolex, Hublot and Patek Philippe.

Mr Donovan gave the impression that the high value branded items (pens, cufflinks etc) selling for up to £250 were 'New and Genuine' supplying the items complete with 'Certificates of Authenticity' in branded boxes. He created an elaborate story that the goods were 'Promotional or Gift items' given out by the brand holders at prestigious international jewellery shows. As he said the items he sold were not available for retail sale, it was impossible for consumers to compare them against original products and so establish they were fakes.

The goods were sold through a variety of selling platforms, although predominantly online via Ebay, Amazon and through his own businesses web sites such as Swiss Luxury Goods, Promo21 and Basel World UK.

Suspected items were “test purchased” by the trading standards team, so allowing a detailed examination and confirmation the items were counterfeit unauthorised copies.

Donovan knowingly imported and sold large amounts of counterfeit goods to unsuspecting consumers, and continued to do so even whilst knowingly under investigation.

Donovan reverted to extreme lengths to distance himself from his criminal activities and frustrate the investigation, by using a large number of aliases, usernames, email addresses, telephone numbers etc. and the creation of postal and fictitious accommodation addresses, even involving his wife Elizabeth Genovese (57), of Green Lane, Yaxley, in the financial side of the operation in an effort to disguise the payments received.

On 11 September 2017 at Peterborough Crown Court Donovan pleaded Guilty to:

1 – “Fraudulent Trading”, contrary to section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006
2 - “Acquiring Criminal Property to the value of £ £76,355.50 contrary to section 329(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

On 27 November 2017 at Cambridge Crown Court Elizabeth Genovese 57 pleaded Guilty to Transferring Criminal Property, namely £76,355.50, to a bank account held in the name of Terrance Donovan contrary to section 327(1)(d) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Yesterday (13 December 2017) at Cambridge Crown Court the following sentences were passed:

Mr Terrance Donovan received a total of 3 years immediate imprisonment

Ms Elizabeth Genovese received 5 months suspended for 18 months.

A forfeiture and destruction order was made in respect of all the counterfeit items.

Under Proceeds of Crime Act a benefit figure of £76,355.50 was agreed and a nominal order for £5 was set as no realisable assets were identified.

Presiding over the case was HHJ Farrell QC who commented that this was a highly sophisticated criminal enterprise fraudulent from the outset over a period of 4 years. 

Speaking on behalf of Hublot Jordan Sargent of Surelock Brand Protection Services added: "Surelock Brand Protections Services represents a large number trademark holders, we will continue to work with trading standards to ensure those trading in counterfeit goods are brought to account.

"We applaud the actions of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards regarding this case and their positive stance of clamping down on counterfeit goods. The public should be aware that by purchasing counterfeit goods they are receiving an inferior quality product."

Peter Gell, Head of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards Service, said: “This investigation is a great example of joint working, we will continue to work with the public, brand holders, local traders and our enforcement partners to ensure that together we stamp out illegal ‘business practices’ within Peterborough.

"People should be aware that by purchasing counterfeit goods in their various guises you are having a detrimental effect on the livelihoods of legitimate businesses and their employees.

"This investigation has halted a counterfeiting enterprise worth thousands of pounds, and we hope this sends out a clear warning message to anyone else who thinks breaking the law is acceptable.”

Residents who have information on counterfeiting activity can call Citizen Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or can pass on details by emailing trading.standards@peterborough.gov.uk