Exclusive: Trading standards on how to avoid counterfeit alcohol

A trading standards officer shares insider advice on how independent retailers can avoid stocking counterfeit goods in their stores.

The conviction of a shop owner for selling counterfeit vodka has prompted a warning that retailers should beware of goods “too cheap to be true”.

It comes after Ahtsham Ghafoor, who owns a Nisa in Gateshead, was found guilty of several offences relating to the alcohol. The vodka was unfit for human consumption and being sold at 80p below the minimum legal price.

The case is thought to be the region’s first conviction relating to the pricing regulations, which were introduced in 2014.

Doug Love, trading standards officer at Islington Council, told Retail Express that the best way to avoid counterfeit or non-duty paid goods is to know what you’re looking for.

“The first rule is don’t buy anything from anyone calling at the shop,” he said. “It’ll be counterfeit, non-duty paid or stolen.

“Also, if something’s too good or too cheap to be true, then don’t buy it – especially if you’re going to one of these pop-up, independent cash & carries, and they’re offering one case of wine free with another, but not putting the free wine on the invoice. It means you have wine you can’t account for.”

Love described illicit alcohol as one of trading standards’ top three concerns.

“Some of the alcohol can be very dangerous; in the worst cases it can cause fatalities,” he said. “It’s also a concern that honest businesses are suffering from unfair competition. If businesses are selling illicit goods we’re also concerned that they may be breaking other laws, such as selling to children.”

Ghafoor was fined more than £3,000, and ordered to pay costs of £1,331.


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