Trading Standards chiefs today pledged to target rogue shopkeepers as a trader who flouted the law faces paying back his ill-gotten gains.
Mohammed Ali Anwar, 34, was handed a community order with unpaid work after he sold fake cigarettes at his Day to Day Bargains store on Central Drive.
But he then continued his crime by selling packets of Mayfair cigarettes and pouches of Amber Leaf tobacco – which did not carry the correct health warnings or labelling – from a second shop he ran in Dickson Road, as told by The Gazette on Friday.
He was summonsed for further offences of trading in counterfeit goods.
Anwar, of Manchester Road, Nelson, is now facing a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing to recover some of the money he made from his dodgy practices.
And council chiefs today warned other traders who may be tempted by selling under the counter goods to make a quick buck to think twice.
Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “Many authorities do not do any enforcement work on illicit tobacco, however, we take our duty to protect the public extremely seriously and carry out regular proactive investigation as illicit tobacco can be even more dangerous than regular branded cigarettes.
“In this case, the shopkeeper, despite being caught previously, continued to break the law.
“This is absolutely unacceptable and, rightly, he has been punished by the courts. A proceeds of crime hearing is also pending.
“We will continue to scrutinise this and any other businesses that we suspect are breaking the law.”
Preston Crown Court heard Anwar, of Manchester Road, Nelson, started selling the bogus goods when the shops he was running fell into financial difficulties.
He has since closed down the two businesses and returned to his former business as a milkman.
Shop assistant Elwira Gawecka, 29, of Handsworth Road, North Shore, also admitted selling counterfeit goods after Trading Standards officers visited the shop on January 8.
Recorder Sally Hatfield, sentencing at Preston Crown Court, handed each defendant a community order with 75 hours’ unpaid work for Anwar and 60 hours’ for Gawecka.