A businessman's illicit fake cigarettes operation has been stubbed out after sniffer dogs discovered a huge stash kept within the business.
Trading Standards at Westminster City Council found 28,000 cigarettes with £8,000 stockpiled and carefully concealed at Star hairdresser, at 124 Shaftesbury Avenue.
The under the counter supply was discovered by tobacco detection dogs, and resulted in the business and its sole director being hit with fines totalling £42,544.
Cheng Cai Wang, 47, pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and Consumer Protection Act 1987 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 9.
The Trading Standards operation on January 21 was filmed, and shows sniffer dogs hunting out boxes of cigarettes hidden in various areas including two suitcases in an enclosed yard at the rear of the premises.
Packets of cigarettes were also disguised in a box designed for a laptop plus a dummy security camera, hair dryer, toy Lego car and fitness equipment.
Some of the suspect cigarettes bore the trademarks of Benson & Hedges and Marlboro whilst others were not intended for the British market and did not have the required UK health warning labelling.
The detection dog also found large bundles of £20 notes banded together in bundles of £1,000 hidden in wash bags and a large quantity of cash in a footstool within the premises.
Cabinet member for public protection and licensing at Westminster City Council, Cllr Antonia Cox, said: “ Counterfeit cigarettes undercut legitimate businesses, can fund organised crime and endanger the health of those who buy them as they are smoking ‘tobacco’ often made of rat droppings, heavy metals and tea leaves.
“Protecting residents, visitors and local businesses from those who chose to sell counterfeit goods is of paramount importance to Westminster City Council.
“I hope this prosecution sends a clear message that we will clamp down hard on rogue businesses.”
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