"well-organised fraud with the backing of a legitimate company."
Four members of a family have been sentenced for a £1 million tax fraud after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
All residing in West Yorkshire, Amar Choudry, aged 38, Yasir Choudry, aged 30, Qaisar Choudry, aged 28 and Mudasar Alishan, aged 40, were sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on June 27, 2019.
They were convicted in February 2019 for selling fake clothing.
The four men were given suspended sentences after Trading Standards discovered they sold counterfeit clothes online.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards had investigated their operation for two years.
They followed the case after a tip-off by private investigators Surelock International who represent leading brands.
The family members’ illegal acts breached trademarks of popular bands.
An investigation followed into an industrial-scale screen printing operation in which the trademarks of leading musicians, bands and sports teams were illegally printed on to clothing and distributed globally.
Yasir and Qaisar ran a company called YMC Clothing Ltd selling goods online.
They used a number of eBay and Amazon user accounts, in both their own and third-party names, including those of their family members.
The printing took place at the business on Thornton Road, Bradford, which used the trading style Fresh and Funky.
At the hearing in February, Judge Colin Burn described the offending as a “well-organised fraud with the backing of a legitimate company”.
Following the family’s conviction, David Lodge, Head of Trading Standards, said:
“The trade in counterfeit goods is not a victimless crime, it impacts directly on UK jobs and the high street.”
“This service will continue to bring to justice those individuals seeking to benefit from the theft of intellectual property and take away the assets accrued through criminal conduct.”
While investigating the four men’s tax affairs, HMRC found they failed to declare earnings from online sales to evade paying Income Tax, VAT and Corporation Tax.
Yasir and Qaisar did not declare their business earnings or their personal income to HMRC. In total, they stole £448,966 in taxes.
Amar and Mudasar sold the clothes online using personal accounts and between them stole £575,244.
All four men pleaded guilty to tax fraud in May 2019. They were each sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work on June 27, 2019.
In addition, YMC Clothing Ltd was also fined £500,000.
The Telegraph and Argus reported that proceedings are underway in order to recover the stolen money.