POLICE have seized more than 1,000 counterfeit items of computer hardware, which could potentially have fetched almost £1m.
Following a tip-off from IT networking business Cisco, officers from the City of London Police’s intellectual property crimes unit (PIPCU) found the dodgy equipment at an address in Herne Bay in Kent.
The total value of the items seized if sold individually at full list price could have been £996,000, although it is very rare for equipment to be sold like that and would more likely have netted the sellers £300,000.
Speaking to Sky News, PIPCU’s Detective Sergeant Kevin Ives said: “Counterfeit goods, across the board, are very attractive to organised criminals.
“There’s less risk in importing them than there is with drugs or firearms and the profit margins are very high.
“Especially in technology and hardware, the average person would find it very hard to know what was counterfeit and what wasn’t.”
The material had first been spotted as counterfeit by specialists from Cisco, who also attended the premises which were searched and pointed out what hardware was fake and what was legitimate.
Counterfeit materials are produced by criminals who are committed to fraudulently making money, the Detective Sergeant told Sky News.
While there is no evidence that the seized hardware had been maliciously tampered with to implant malware on victims’ devices, its lower quality could have put consumers at risk.
PIPCU was founded in 2013, and is funded by the Intellectual Property Office rather than the Home Office, which funds the UK’s other police forces.
An image of the equipment seized appears to show Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) transceivers, extremely expensive equipment which converts electrical signals to optical signals within communication networks.
Detective Sergeant Ives told Sky that the equipment could have been purchased by public sector bodies and – being of lower quality that official networking equipment – may have failed and disrupted their network.
“Without a doubt business customers would have believed these were genuine,” he told – SkyNews.