AN organisation has urged retailers to make sure they are buying products from legitimate firms – and is using a host of cases in Burton as prime examples of what can happen if they do not.
The Federation of Wholesaler Distribution (FWD) has warned retailers to beware of illegal wholesale operations, after a spate of raids on independent stores in the town found alcohol products on which UK duty had not been paid.
The most recent saw police officers and trading standards officials recover £6,000 of illegal booze and cigarettes from High Street News, in High Street, Burton.
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “Retailers who are offered very cheap deals on alcohol really must ask themselves if the prices are too good to be true.
“In the past few months there has been a significant increase in activity to target illegal alcohol, much of it aimed at the retailers themselves.
“Shop owners are risking their licence and their livelihood if they get involved with criminal activity, and it is their responsibility to ensure they buy from a legitimate source.”
Shop owners caught with illicit alcohol on their shelves will not only lose the stock, but could lose their licences too.
Alcohol duty fraud costs the Government £1.2 billion in lost revenue every year.
HM Revenue and Customs said it seized more than 12 million litres of duty unpaid alcohol in 2012-13, three times as much as the previous year.
In January, the Government set up a joint industry alcohol anti-fraud taskforce to tackle the issue and help retailers ensure they stay within the law.
The latest raid in Burton came on the back of several others across the town during the past two years, which have seen massive fines handed to shop owners caught selling counterfeit goods.
Staffordshire Police revealed that investigations into its raid at High Street News were still ‘ongoing’.
Anyone with information about counterfeit goods can call Staffordshire trading standards officials on 01785 330356, or head online to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/fakes