A MAN who sold fake Ugg boots from a Birmingham shopping centre − conning shoppers in the run up to Christmas − has been hit with a court fine after being convicted of trademark violations.
cott Sutton opened a unit in The Pavillions on Christmas Eve 2014 and lured customers in with branding identical to that used by the iconic Aussie bootmaker, plus an eye-catching 70 per cent discount offer.
He sold pairs at £50 each − all cash purchases as Sutton rejected card payments − during a four-day sales spree before officers acted on concerns raised by a city centre PCSO to move in and close the shop down.
Enquiries were made with Ugg ’s brand protection and legal advisors − who confirmed the store wasn’t legitimate − and officers traced several customers tricked into believing the boots were genuine.They included one 15-year-old girl who parted with her Christmas cash after being told by a sales assistant the boots were genuine but could be sold at knock-down prices as “they weren’t made at the real Ugg factory”.
Sutton, formerly of Newfield Road in Hagley, was behind the till on 27 December 2014 when police swooped and in interview claimed he hadn’t committed a criminal offence and that it was a matter for trading standards.
However, West Midlands Police investigators eventually secured three charges of unauthorised trademark use against the 49-year-old.
Sutton admitted the offences and at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday (May 2) was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £980 in costs; he faces being jailed for three months if he fails to pay the fine.
PC Min Patel, from Birmingham Police’s Investigations Team, said: “It was a brazen fraud: he rented a unit in one of Birmingham’s most prestigious shopping centres and placed Ugg signage in windows and above the door to add further credibility to the deception.
“The packaging was professional and Ugg labels had been stitched onto the boots…most customers were left convinced this was a reputable business.
“Some shoppers may have suspected the boots were fake but were happy to part with their money for the name and not the quality.
“However, many customers felt ripped off that they had spent £50 or £100 on fake goods − and many of the purchases were Christmas presents for friends and family.
“Shoppers should always be wary about offers that appear too good to be true, both when shopping in the high street or online. Many of Sutton’s victims were upset at being conned…I hope the action taken by West Midlands Police shows frauds of this type won’t be tolerated.”
Police seized £7,000 in cash from Sutton’s car while 100 pairs of Ugg boot fakes were recovered from the Pavillions store.
In interview, Sutton denied giving shoppers the suggestion the boots were genuine as that would “insult their intelligence”.
He refused to name the supplier and said he was “out to prove a point” to trading standards having previously had a greetings card shop closed down by them.