Fiona Taylor, 44, reportedly made over £400,000 selling counterfeit bags at her "handbag parties" across North Yorkshire, the Teesside Crown Court heard recently.
It is believed that the mum of two used counterfeiters in China to help her sell fakes of the popular brand Mulberry as well as other well-known labels. Using the money to fund a luxurious lifestyle, Taylor treated herself to holidays, a new car and covered the cost of private school tuition fees.
Telling one party goer that she had sourced the handbags through contacts she knew at Mulberry's own factory, Taylor duped her customers into believing the goods were the real thing.
Richard Bennet, from the prosecution, told the court that receipts showed Taylor had raked in a substantial £418,687, £145,616 of which was profit that Taylor pocketed.
Whilst Taylor's "parties" proved popular, she did receive numerous complaints over the quality of the bags after they failed to stand the test of time. One woman, who paid Fiona £585 for multiple purchases later discovered that the serial number in one of the Mulberry handbag's Taylor sold her was fake. Mulberry have since confirmed that this product was a counterfeit.
Taylor's home was searched in June of last year and a large number of fake handbags were recovered from the property. Alongside counterfeits from Mulberry, fakes of Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Luis Vuitton were also found.
The defence for Taylor told the Teesside Crown Court that after being made redundant from her bank-based job, she resorted to selling the handbags and was deeply remorseful.
Taking into consideration that she entered into a guilty plea early, the Judge has sentenced Taylor to a three-month suspended sentence over two years and 200 hours community service.
Unfortunately, stories like Fiona Taylor's are not uncommon in this day and age, as the demand for low-cost fashion fakes rise. Whilst many of Taylor's customers were perhaps victims of a sham sale, many do set out to find a cheaper and close match alternative to the real thing. Whether using excuses of recessions, overpriced or simply looking for a bit of a bargain, the counterfeit handbag industry is booming. Yet forking out for fakes is the ultimate cardinal fashion sin for a multitude of reasons, so the next time you're lusting over the next season's "it" bag, make sure you use Bag Studio.
Why should you never buy fake handbags?
- Supporting counterfeiters. - Above all, buying fake handbags will support criminals who help run the counterfeiting industry. Whilst bringing home 'knock offs' from foreign jaunts might seem harmless enough, the sale of fake handbags is illegal. Counterfeiters very rarely adhere to fair trade practices and very often child labour with very poor working conditions will be involved.
- It won't be the same. - There's a reason that the big-name labels can often carry hefty price tags, and that's because they take a great deal of pride in their work. Whether hand stitched, the finest leather, or expensive dyes, the real deal pays close attention to detail where counterfeits don't. Whilst some fakes are easier to spot than other, (we've all heard tales of the Channel handbag rather than Chanel), there will always be crucial differences, and where a real designer piece can last a lifetime, you'll be lucky if a fake see's out a season. Saving for the real article might take longer, but to coin a phrase from a well-known beverage company, good things come those who wait.
- Fashion Designers. - Fashion houses and their designers have worked hard for many years to earn their covetable ranks as the industry's best, and so by buying counterfeits you are turning your back on the fashion greats. Years goes into the creation of a collection and so easily are the cheap copies made. Following the latest trends, counterfeiters offer the 'nowhere near matches' for low costs, but at what price to the fashion industry? It might be a multimillion-pound affair but if everyone succumbed to temptation of a fake or two, the houses would certainly crumble.
How do I avoid buying fake handbags?
- Always use a site you trust. - Google holds the doorway to an endless array of professional looking yet counterfeit product sites. Despite what misconceptions might have you believe, cost doesn't necessarily equate to authenticity, and you can find yourself forking out hundreds, (even thousands), for a counterfeit bag. Save yourself the disappointment and steer away from the scams by making sure you only shop at reputable sites.
- Be mindful of the price. - We've all heard the 'if it seems too good to be true' and yet thousands if not more are lured in by the promise of dramatically dropped down prices. Everyone loves a sale but there's a time to be realistic, if the price seems too low chances are it's a fake.
- Appearance. - As the most tell tale of the signs, paying close attention to stitching, linings and overall quality of the bag can save you from being conned into a fake. Some will be a closer match than others but overall, not counterfeit will ever be a match for the real designers.
By Stephanie Jade Sleaford.