MORE than 20,000 fake cigarettes and 7.5 kilos of illegal tobacco have been seized in Dudley in the last 12 months, council chiefs have revealed.

The haul of cigarettes and tobacco seized by Dudley Council's trading standards team in the last year would be worth in excess of £45,000 if the products were genuine and this is money lost from the local economy, council bosses say.

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, Dudley Council's cabinet member for responsible for Trading Standards, said: "Cheap, poor quality and too good to be true are often words associated with counterfeit goods.

"This is a serious problem, leading to serious crime which is affecting all four corners of the globe.

"People often think that counterfeiting is a victimless crime and it’s only the brands that are losing out. But this simply isn’t true.

"Evidence tells us that this trade has more sinister implications, with huge profits used to fund organised crime groups and terrorist organisations involved in human trafficking and drug smuggling."

And he issued a stern warning to illicit traders operating in Dudley - saying: "We’re here to investigate and stamp out this kind of activity in our borough. "My message to residents is to always buy from reputable companies and help us crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods."

Products most likely to be counterfeited include alcohol, fragrance, cigarettes, toys and mobile phones and accessories.

In the UK sales of illicit goods cost the economy more than £9billion in lost revenue and £4billion in unpaid tax as well as 60,000 jobs and it is believed the volume of counterfeit goods entering the UK is likely to have increased, in part, due to the shift to online shopping during the pandemic and many people being able to find bargains online.

To avoid buying illicit goods, residents in the Dudley borough are advised to follow the Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s four Ps:

Place – always buy from a reputable company

Price – if a deal looks too good to be true, it most likely is

Packaging – look out for poor quality labelling, including spelling mistakes and poor grammar

Product - look out for fake versions of well-known brands and be wary of unusual brand names

If anyone is aware or suspicious of someone selling counterfeit goods they are urged to report it immediately to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or online at