World Cup shirt sellers caught by police with staggering £500,000 worth of fake gear

Police have seized four tonnes of fake football shirts ahead of the World Cup – worth a staggering £500,000.

Lockups and houses were raided across the country in a police crackdown on counterfeit goods, which it said was linked to organised crime.

Along with the £500,000 worth of goods, police seized £12,000 in cash with six people arrested.

City of London released photos showing the sheer number of fake shirts held in a storage facility and on a market stall.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Hussey said: “We regularly see links between the counterfeit goods trade and organised criminal groups.

“Counterfeiting is one of the primary methods used by these groups to make money, and enables them to fund serious offences such as drugs trafficking and money laundering.

“We would always urge fans to think twice before buying fake merchandise, and will continue to work with our partners to take action against those who sell it.”

In Bristol and Northampton, police found fake football shirts valued to be worth £250,000.

A large number of counterfeit England shirts, FIFA World Cup badges, and £2,000 in cash were found across four premises in Leeds, West Yorks.

And in Sheffield shirts were seized from a storage facility and £10,000 in cash was found at a residential property, a police spokesman said.

Marcus Evans, deputy director Intelligence and Law Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said: “Criminal networks are seeking to exploit (fans’) loyalty for their own financial gain by targeting the market with illegal counterfeit products – with little or no regard for their quality or safety.

“We are pleased to support the intensified enforcement activity to clamp down on the sale of such illicit goods, working in partnership to help protect the public from this type of crime.”

All those arrested have since been released under investigation.