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Sheffield ‘phoney’ businessman ordered to pay £1.1m by courts

Sheffield Town Hall, showing the clock tower and front facade
Sheffield Town Hall, showing the clock tower and front facade

A Sheffield businessman who headed a large-scale operation supplying thousands of counterfeit mobile phone parts throughout Europe and the UK has been ordered to pay over one million pounds following the making of a Confiscation Order at Sheffield Crown Court.

On Friday 5th August 2022, Rong REN appeared at Sheffield Crown Court and was ordered by His Honour Judge KELSON QC to pay over the value of his available assets totalling £1,097,563.64 within 3 months or face a default prison sentence of 14 years.

REN and his business 2028 W Ltd, located at Burton Street in Sheffield, initially came to the attention of Sheffield City Council’s Trading Standards team in early 2018. In August that year, Trading Standards investigators executed a warrant at REN’S business premise and seized 80,000 mobile phone accessories. South Yorkshire Police officers also attended and assisted with the warrant.

In February 2020, REN was jailed for 12 months and banned from acting as a company director after pleading guilty to Trade Marks Act offences relating to the seized items.

The sentencing judge HHJ Jeremy Richardson QC remarked that “offences of this type materially undermine public trust in the legitimate brands and involve serious criminality. The public have essentially been duped by the defendant and legitimate businesses have been cheated of profit.”

Officers from the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit launched a separate investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 into the funds generated by REN’S criminality. Following extensive enquiries, they discovered that the value of his criminality was over £4.8 million and traced his available assets which will satisfy the Confiscation Order.

Ramona Senior, head of the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit said:

“This result comes about as the result of a close working partnership between the RECU and Sheffield Trading Standards who successfully brought the criminal prosecution.

“The Proceeds of Crime Act is a powerful tool in tacking criminally derived assets and Op Lovat should serve as a warning to others engaged in criminal activity that you will be discovered and your assets will be confiscated.”

Cllr Mike Chaplin, Deputy Chair of the Waste and Street Scene Policy Committee at Sheffield City Council, said:

“This is a terrific result for our trading standards team and is a great example of partnership working with colleagues from South Yorkshire Police and the North East Regional Economic Crime Unit. The sale and supply of counterfeit goods is a serious challenge affecting both the everyday person being duped into these purchases and the many legitimate businesses being undermined by this activity.

“Those tempted to engage in this type of criminality should be aware that where relevant they will be pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and apart from any other sentences imposed by the courts, property obtained through their criminal conduct will be traced and recovered.”

To report concerns about illegal trading, contact Sheffield Trading Standards: