Published: 16:01, 28 October 2014
Businessman Patrick Morris offered his on-line customers “a bit of magic”... but what he delivered wasn’t heaven scent.
The fraudster claimed he could provide genuine Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Versace or Chanel No.5 fragrances at knock-down prices.
But instead, the boss of www.a-bit-of-magic.co.uk, conjured up cheap fake perfumes from China which he mailed from his home in Wellington Parade, Deal.
The 65-year-old – who promised his customers “We only buy where we get an assurance that the items are genuine”- also conned them into buying other counterfeit goods including Bose headphones.
“When they arrived at her home they were clearly counterfeit and weren’t genuine Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein or Versace fragrances" - Prosecutor Helen Guest
Trading Standards believe that Morris’ bogus potions caused more than £250,000 worth of profits to genuine companies to disappear.
Prosecutor Helen Guest told Canterbury Crown Court: “The activities of the on-line shop, www.a-bit-of-magic.co.uk, involved offering the sale of branded goods, mainly well-known fragrances and audio equipment.
“The goods being offered and sold as genuine were in fact counterfeit. The fragrances bore identical trademarks to the genuine items.”
Morris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud after a customer Mrs Angela Phillips paid £53.97 for three fragrances in 2012.
“When they arrived at her home they were clearly counterfeit and weren’t genuine Dolce and Gabbana, Calvin Klein or Versace fragrances," she added.
In June 2012, Trading Standards paid £48 for Bose headphones from the on-line company and sent them to Bose to check if they were genuine.
“The headphones' finish and texture were poor and they were clearly counterfeit”, the prosecutor said.
A month later TS staff bought a £29.99 bottle of Chanel No.5 from Morris’s company.
That too was fake and smelled nothing like the real fragrance.
In November, officials from Trading Standards swooped on the businessman’s home and were met by his godson James Cumming, who has also admitted being part of the conspiracy.
Officers then seized an order which Morris had made to a Chinese company for 230 mixed perfumes and paid just £1,501.58 – which was just £6.53 each.
But the sentence was adjourned when lawyers for Morris rejected a prosecution claim he had pocketed nearly £83,000 from his fraud in just 11 months.
Ms Guest said that Morris’ company had at least 5,500 customers who believed they were buying genuine goods.
She also revealed that the fraudster had also run another online company called www.a-touch-of-stardust.co.uk and fake items – including Ugg Boots and Ray Ban sunglasses – had previously been seized by UK Border Agency.
And in 2011 Morris had been forced to pay Chanel £1,000 in damages after the company wrote to him about selling fake products.
Morris and Cumming, 32, now living in Bournemouth – who described himself as “an online manager” – will be sentenced in November.