Man ran ‘global counterfeit operation’ from his garage

Inside Michael White's garage.

Inside Michael White's garage.

A County Antrim businessman who ran an international counterfeiting operation from his garage in Templepatrick has been given a suspended jail sentence at Laganside Courts today.

Michael White (47) from Ballymartin Road, Templepatrick, ordered fake Ford car accessories from China and sold them on eBay to customers around the world.

Counterfeit Ford mudflaps.

Counterfeit Ford mudflaps.

Police financial investigators calculate he sold £112,000 worth of items, including mud flaps, car mats and covers bearing distinctive Ford branding over a four-year period between January 2012-January 2016.

White admitted five charges of selling goods bearing an unauthorised trademark and one charge of converting criminal property. He was given a two year sentence suspended for two years.

Late last year police received a complaint about White’s business activities from the Ford Motor Company which had previously warned him to desist.

White had ordered mud flaps, car mats and car dust covers bearing different types of distinctive Ford branding from a manufacturer in China. He shipped them back to Templepatrick from where he operated a site on eBay and sold them to customers around the world.

Exterior of Michael White's garage.

Exterior of Michael White's garage.

When detectives from Reactive and Organised Crime Branch arrived at White’s detached farmhouse in Templepatrick, they found substantial amounts of counterfeit Ford accessories packed into boxes and stored on shelving in the double garage.

Temporary Detective Superintendent Gary Reid said: “The market for car products linked to high value brands is substantial. Those who seek to subvert this market by making and selling counterfeit products are putting jobs at risk and reducing legitimate profits. They are also taking money out of the legitimate economy and its tax revenues which pay for public services.

“We remain committed to working with industry to ensure that producers, workers and the public are protected from fraudsters. I would urge anyone with information about the manufacture, distribution or sale of any counterfeit products to contact police.”

Ford Brand Protection Manager, Mr Jess Owens, said: “Ford operates a global team to fight counterfeit product and protect consumers from goods bearing Ford trademarks without authority. Rigorous research and development is conducted by Ford to ensure that parts and accessories provide consumer satisfaction and safety.”

Confiscation proceedings in relation to the financial benefit White derived from his criminal activities will now begin.