News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 12 October 2017

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News and Scam Alerts from Coventry Trading Standards - 12 October 2017

In this issue:

Record haul of illegal cigarettes seized in city


Over one million illegal cigarettes were seized in a joint operation between Coventry Trading Standards, Coventry Police and Immigration on Monday (9 October).

The haul was discovered during a planned operation at an address in the Hillfields area of the city. Twelve made-to-measure wooden boxes full of illegal cigarettes were found on pallets next to hundreds of empty cardboard boxes that were ready to load with the illegal products.

Three vans were seized at the premises, two of which also contained illegal cigarettes. A male was arrested and was interviewed late yesterday evening.

Cllr Tariq Khan, Chair of Coventry City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said:

“All of the cigarettes found were foreign branded and failed to have the required health warnings in English and it was clear from the size of the operation that this was a distribution point, with illegal cigarettes coming into Coventry in large quantities to be not only distributed locally but further afield.

He continued: “Selling and distributing illegal cigarettes is taken incredibly seriously in the city – the trade has links to wider criminal networks and presents a real danger to consumers. We are removing these cigarettes from the streets and the people that profit from this crime.”

The estimated tax evasion value on the amount of cigarettes is in the region of £350,000.

The beginning of the day also saw seizures of illegal tobacco products from four local retail shops, one being found in a hidden cupboard operated by electromagnets. Two of the shops had been abandoned by the workers at the time of the visits, one of which was later secured by Trading Standards.

A van parked near to one of the shops where seizures were made was also broken into and more illegal cigarettes were found under the seats.

The vast quantities of illegal tobacco seized have now been transferred and safely stored in a secure warehouse outside of the city.

Investigations are ongoing and  following Monday's record seizure, Intelligence identified a further consignment of 2 million more illegal cigarettes which have now been intercepted in an area just outside London.  

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Warning - buying counterfeit cosmetic products online


With the continued growth of online sales and the ever increasing array of online market places, Coventry Trading Standards is highlighting the dangers of buying cosmetics, toilitries and perfumes at rock bottom prices for fear they may be counterfeit.

Earlier on in the year, a Coventry resident got caught out by such a scam and ended up being nearly £60 out of pocket when all the products that had been ordered were confirmed as fake.

Laboratory tests have shown fake cosmetics have been found to contain toxic chemicals and harmful substances such as arsenic, mercury and lead, all these can cause allergic reactions as well as leaving the consumer with longer term health problems. Counterfeit perfume often contains poisonous chemicals including cyanide and even human urine. Counterfeit sun cream often contains little or no SPF and so offers no protection to harmful UV rays which could lead to long term skin damage. 

In recent national news, Trading Standards successfully prosecuted a man who was selling fake lipsticks on Facebook and eBay with 300 times the legal level of lead. Read the full story.

Trading Standards advise that while consumers can easily be caught out by products that look like a genuine branded product, the price is usually a giveaway. Packaging can be of a poor quality or the goods arrive with no packaging at all. Just remember if it seems too good to be true it probably is! 

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Crime prevention advice: Theft of gold during Diwali


Diwali – the 5 day Hindu festival of lights – commences on 19 October this year.

Diwali is the time of year that families remove jewellery from safe keeping to wear at the numerous celebrations.

Statistics have shown that during this time it is common practice for Asian properties to be targeted by criminal networks involved in lucrative ‘family gold’ thefts.

Gold is particularly tempting due to its high value and the speed and anonymity in which it can be exchanged for large sums of cash.

Trading Standards and the Police advise:

  • Do not leave valuables out on display so they can be seen from outside
  • Invest in a good quality safe which complies with official insurance rating standards. A Home Office website lists approved security products.
  • Ensure that you have good window and door security – and remember to use it!
  • Be aware of strangers or strange vehicles in your area.
  • Do not be tricked into letting strangers in. Always check callers ID: if you are not sure, don’t open the door.
  • When wearing your jewellery in public, be cautious as to who is around you. Stick to well-lit streets and consider wearing a scarf to cover your neckline.

Theft of gold affects victims financially but also emotionally. Each piece is usually individual in nature and handed down from generation to generation so it has great sentimental value and often irreplaceable.

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Recall - Babies 'R' Us - Bruin Wiggle Ball AKA Giggle Ball


The following notice has been issued by the retailer:

Safety notice

  • Bruin Wiggle Ball AKA Giggle Ball
  • Item 067369 
  • Model 5F6342E
  • Hazard; The wiggle ball's rubber knobs and plastic back can detach from the ball creating a small part, posing a choking hazard.
  • Remedy Consumers should immediately take the recalled Wiggle Ball from babies and return the product to Babies 'R' Us or Toys 'R' Us for a refund.

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Safety Notice: B&Q - Mac Allister 3x7 and 2X8 Combination Ladders


The following notice has been issued by the retailer:

IMPORTANT - B&Q would like to draw all customers' attention to a vital safety feature of these ladders, in order to avoid risk of serious injury.

The products were on sale between 25 July 2016 and 5 September 2017.


Barcode: 3663602910466


Barcode: 3663602910442

Always ensure that the bottom stabiliser bar is fitted correctly before any use.

If your ladder does not have the stabiliser bar available, do not use it. Please return the product immediately to a store for a full refund. Alternatively call our helpline to order the replacement parts on 0300 303 4482.

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