Havering Council eBay scam smash team take top award

A crack team from Havering Council which smashed a huge eBay scam worth millions of pounds has been recognised with a national accolade.

Havering Council trading standard’s team were named best department in the country in the Anti-Counterfeiting Group’s annual awards, last Thursday.

It recognises their outstanding work in Operation Augusta - the biggest counterfeiting scam of its kind investigated by a council trading standards team and the largest ever uncovered on eBay.

The defendants sold fake golf clubs and merchandise internationally through the website between June 2003 and March 2008.

Ringleader Gary Bellchambers organised the delivery of more than six tons of golf equipment into the UK alone.

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He was sentenced to four years and three months in jail in March 2010.

Six others were also convicted at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

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The awards committee gave the team the 2011 Department Award for Excellence for “outstanding work” last year.

Bill Adams, trading standards operations manager, who led the investigation, said: “This award represents a lot of hard work, long days and sleepless nights by my dedicated team. Operation Augusta was a landmark case and a huge victory against counterfeiters who were ripping off thousands of people.”

The council will be awarded �500 towards courses for trading standards officers, surveillance equipment, satellite navigations units, digital cameras or IT equipment.

Cllr Lesley Kelly, Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Through the Proceeds of Crime Act, we can take a share of criminals’ assets that have been confiscated and we invest this money into maintaining vital services for local people.”

Over the past year the team has also seized counterfeit wine, spirits, medical supplies, car parts, dangerous children’s toys and unsafe hair straighteners.

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