THE internet is proving a perfect, but not foolproof, marketplace for fakes as a five-strong Alicante-based group discovered.
They sold supposedly genuine sports shoes and accessories via a website but their days were numbered after representatives from two leading sports brands complained to the Guardia Civil in San Juan.
Analysis of trainers acquired from the website triggered an investigation leading to San Juan, Alicante City, Novelda and Catral and the arrests of a woman and four men. The Guardia Civil also impounded 40 pairs of trainers, computers, mobile phones and paperwork from the group who are all Spanish and aged between 26 and 60.
The flyers they distributed in several Alicante Province towns included recommendations from satisfied clients who praised their delivery service which included tracking. The group operated only intermittently but dispatched around 200 packages a month to clients in Spain and abroad.
The items were poor quality, low-cost imitations acquired from Chinese distributors, Guardia Civil sources said.
Registered brands lose an annual €26.3 billion according to the European Union’s Alicante-based Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Rip-off clothes, footwear and accessories not only cost legitimate companies the equivalent of 9.7 per cent of their turnover but they also eliminate 363,000 jobs, according to EUIPO (the former OAMI-OHIM office).