The ex-cops going undercover to help smash Manchester’s counterfeit stores – where fraudsters ‘can make £30,000 a day’
By Neal Keeling – 4 FEB 2019
Private investigators have gone undercover to help dismantle Manchester’s ‘counterfeit street’.
The company uses plain clothes ex-police officers to pose as customers and buy bogus goods and to infiltrate gangs and the impact has been dramatic.
The number of stores in the Strangeways area, described as the “fakes capital of the UK” last year has reduced to just over a dozen as a result of the firm working with GMP and Manchester council.
Private detectives filmed and recorded test purchases of forged designer clothing and accessories and illegal cigarettes.
TM Eye Ltd was set up by retired Detective Chief Inspector, David McKelvey, who served with the Metropolitan Police, and regional and national crime squads.
“We have had about 500 prosecutions to date nationwide and all have been successful, only one went to trial, because the strength of evidence we collect is so strong. We have had 92 prosecutions from Manchester.
“Thirteen per cent of all of our prosecutions have resulted in people going to prison.
“We launched Operation Mordor in Manchester in 2015 and have been carrying it in phases. One of our covert operations officers lived and worked in Manchester for seven months – resulting in 29 convictions.
Counterfeit items worth hundreds of thousands of pounds were seized during raids in Strangeways. (Image: Manchester Evening News)
“Many of the properties from where these traders have operated from are actually owned by Manchester city council. We have worked very closely with the council to take back these properties. They are also using criminal behaviour orders to stop people from trading.
“We know have more intelligence about how Counterfeit Street operates than anybody. We have taken out a lot of the major players. The size of the area in terms of the volume of shops has changed completely – it was completely lawless.
Cash that was seized alongside fake designer goods worth £8 million in raids in the Strangeways area of Manchester
“But we work with GMP and the council and there is now only 14 stores – which is a dramatic impact. It is the result of outstanding partnership work. We share intelligence with the police.
“We have the resources and time to do the covert work. Because police have to concentrate more on counter terrorism and organised crime their resources are finite and it leaves a vacuum for counterfeiters to flourish.