A MAN who promoted and sold counterfeit designer clothing and mobile phones to more than 20,000 Instagram followers has been sentenced. Jack Allen, aged 20, of Churchfield Lane in Castleford, made over £14,300 after promoting the items on his Instagram account (@CounterClothing297) and as ‘The Masked Gang Man’ on YouTube and a second Instagram account.
Appearing at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 7 September in the wake of an investigation conducted by the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), Allen pleaded guilty to two offences of distributing articles infringing trademarks. He was sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work in addition to having to pay a surcharge for £128.
Detective Constable Daryl Fryatt from the City of London Police’s PIPCU explained: “Allen thought he was on to a winner by using Instagram and YouTube to find potential customers for his business and encouraging members of the public to purchase counterfeit goods. While he ran multiple accounts and even attempted to hide his identity, our investigation uncovered that he had made thousands of pounds from his fraudulent business.”
Fryatt added: “Selling fake goods to the public will land people with a criminal record, as this case shows.”
Detectives were made aware of the accounts in March 2021 after a legitimate brand identified items sold by Allen as being counterfeit.
A subsequent review of Allen’s Instagram profile revealed that he advertised forged identification documents and currency. It also linked him to a second Instagram account and YouTube channel named ‘The Masked Gang Man’, where he shared videos of himself reviewing counterfeit items while wearing a face mask and sunglasses to conceal his identity.
Further purchases arranged via Allen’s Instagram account in April 2021 were also confirmed as involving fake goods, among them a designer necklace and watch, a jumper and a mobile phone.
In July last year, Allen arranged the sale of 15 counterfeit smart phones for £1,750 over Instagram. The following month, he offered to sell a further 40 phones for the sum of £4,400.
He was arrested by PIPCU officers in September 2021. The unit seized three devices and a large quantity of counterfeit footwear and mobile phones thought to be worth an estimated £10,300.
Undermining legitimate sellers
Matthew Cope, deputy director of IP enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), commented: “Criminals are targeting online platforms with illegal counterfeit goods that are often defective, harm consumer confidence and help sustain criminality. This undermines legitimate sellers and causes damage to individuals and communities.”
Cope concluded: “The IPO welcomes the ongoing activity to clamp down on the sale of such illicit goods, working in partnership with the police and industry to help protect communities from this type of criminality.”
During his police interview, Allen answered ‘no comment’ to all questions, but confirmed that he was ‘The Masked Gang Man’ on Instagram and YouTube.