Dominic Littlewood investigates loan sharks. Plus forged celebrity autographs, fake goods trapped at Felixstowe by the UK Border Agency, and a parking ticket scam in Wolverhampton.
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Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.
Welcome to Fake Britain.
Police! Stay where you are!
You're under arrest.
In this series,
I'll be investigating the world of the criminals
who make their money at your expense.
And I'm going to be showing you how NOT to get ripped off.
Coming up, we're on the road with the illegal money-lending teams,
fishing for loan sharks.
We're here to execute a search warrant that's been issued by the magistrates
in relation to illegal money-lending you've been conducting.
We investigate the world of the autograph forgers,
trying to part you from your money.
There's only four letters in "Pele" and he got three of 'em wrong.
We visit Britain's biggest port -
the frontline in the battle against the counterfeiters.
We don't normally import British manufactured cigarettes from China.
And the fake parking tickets
designed to fool you into coughing up your cash.
A lot of people felt they were duty-bound to pay up.
Nowadays, getting a loan from a bank or building society
is tougher than ever.
But there are some people out there
who are more than happy to put their cash in your pockets.
The only trouble is, what they're doing is not only illegal,
it can also destroy your life.
Welcome to the world of the fake loans.
It's 7am and Alan Evans,
head of the South West England Illegal Money-Lending Team,
is about to start another typical day's work.
Today, he's come to oversee a raid
on the house of a suspected loan shark,
an illegal money lender, offering loans that appear to be legitimate,
but are anything but.
We're going to the home of an alleged loan shark.
Do the door! Do the door!
Evidence would suggest that he's a prolific lender.
Lending to vulnerable members of the community.
Once we arrest an individual, the hard work begins.
We're here to execute a search warrant that's been issued by the magistrates
in relation to illegal money-lending that you've been conducting.
Alan's is one of several teams across Britain
set up to address the problem of loan-sharking.
There's been a phenomenal increase in the problem.
We're finding our hotline...
The calls on that have increased over 700%.
Of course with the economic climate, the problem's going to get a lot worse.
Loan sharks drag the victims, eventually,
into a criminal lifestyle.
The only way they can then eventually pay off these loans is
...turning to crime.
And during their search for evidence of any fake loans,
the team turns up drugs.
His search under way,
Alan heads back to the police station
to continue his investigation.
The gentleman concerned was arrested and taken to the police station.
He will now be processed and interviewed
in relation to his possession of a banned substance
and being a loan shark.
Fake loans can ruin lives.
One person who knows that only too well is Carol Highton,
from Runcorn, in Cheshire.
In 2005, her son Brian came into contact
with someone offering to loan him money.
My son Brian was a lovely, lovely boy. Everybody loved him.
Brian had actually got involved with the wrong crowd, we'll say,
the people he worked with, and his boss in particular.
They used to meet after work on a Friday.
Desperate to impress his new boss,
Brian threw himself into a life of partying
that was beyond his means,
and one that came with a price.
Before long, he was in debt to his boss for £300.
Obviously, Brian didn't have £300 at the time.
So somebody had said, "I tell you what, I do loans,
"I lend money out to people and stuff.
"I'll help you out if you want."
The man offering the loan was Paul Nicholson.
He appeared to be a legitimate money-lender,
but he'd lied to get his money-lending licence,
faking his application form
to give his illegal operation a sheen of legitimacy.
And then, four weeks down the line, he got told that,
"I've got to charge you a bit extra. It's 90% on top."
So that took it up to 570 straight away.
He said, "We'll give you what's called a re-spin loan",
and then that took the debt up to £3,400.
And when he couldn't pay it back, the threats began.
If Brian didn't get all the money together,
they said that they were going to shoot his mum.
Unable to cope with the threats,
Brian could see only one way out of his nightmare.
And when Carol returned to her home one morning,
she discovered just how desperate Brian had become.
I went up the stairs and as I got to the top of me stairs,
I turned left and there was my son, hanging.
I still go to bed every night and cry for my son.
Every morning I wake up and think,
"Another day to get through without my son."
That's the only way I can measure the grief.
I still miss that boy of mine, I ache for him every day.
But knowing the circumstances and the tragedy of how he died
and the despair he must've been in... That haunts me, that.
That haunts me.
Later, we're back with the South West England Illegal Money-Lending Team
on the trail of another suspected fake loan seller.
We are from the South West Illegal Money-Lending Team.
This autograph is the most valuable in the world for any living person.
It's Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
Well, it would be, apart from the fact it's a fake.
You see, autographs of the famous are very desirable
and thousands of enthusiasts across the world
will pay a lot of money to get the signature of the person they want.
But as I found out, some are not worth the paper they're written on.
Some autographs sell for thousands of pounds.
Some for a little less.
But there's a darker side to autograph collecting -
one that seeks to make profit out of deception.
Because as interest in collecting has risen,
so have the opportunities for the fakers.
Garry King is one of the country's foremost autograph experts.
Today, he's on his way to inspect one autograph in particular
and to give its owner some very bad news indeed.
We're off to Weymouth to see a gentleman down there
who's bought a Bruce Lee which he believes to be a fake,
which he paid about 4,000 for.
I started collecting when I was 40.
The main ones I wanted to collect
were sporting icons and film icons
during my lifetime.
Chris bought his Bruce Lee autograph from a shop
while on holiday in the US.
Although not run by Disney,
the shop was located in the Disney World resort, Florida.
I knew that Bruce Lee was a very collectable item
and they had one on the wall,
so I thought it would be a good investment.
The only thing that brought suspicions was when we went back to Florida
and we found out it had shut down.
Garry has arrived to give Chris his bad news.
You've sent me a scan
and I have had a good look at it.
I do think this is now a forgery.
It's when you start comparing signatures
that you really start to see the difference.
These are two genuine examples of a Bruce Lee signature.
You can actually see
that they line up extremely well.
Whereas, if we try that with yours,
we can see that it doesn't line up.
It's not just because of the difference in size,
it's because of the difference in the spacing.
It doesn't work at all.
Now that you've seen that you've bought a fake,
-how do you feel about that?
-I feel a bit let down, really.
No doubt you've got a certificate to go with it as well,
which says this item is absolutely authentic.
But now we know differently.
-We do. It's a minefield.
-It is a minefield, yeah.
Moving swiftly on.
Looking through the rest of Chris' collection, all bought in the UK,
Garry has more bad news.
That's awful. There's only four letters in "Pele" and he's got three of them wrong.
At first glance, I would say that Paul Newman is a forgery.
Here we have George Foreman and Muhammed Ali.
I have to say that Muhammed Ali is a forgery.
The George Foreman, that is not right.
John Wayne and Rock Hudson.
Well, I can tell you that the John Wayne is certainly a forgery.
This is not Clint Eastwood. The Clint and the Eastwood are too far apart.
This is not Tiger Woods' signature.
It's not even a very good representation of his signature at all.
Larry Holmes. Again, it's not his signature.
They are just cheap forgeries.
Chris represents the tip of the iceberg
in terms of amateur collectors who've been scammed by the forgers.
Garry's news leaves him devastated.
It's a massive blow.
It's put a lot of doubt in my mind
who I can trust that's in the business now.
It was really quite bad, I've never seen anything like that.
But Chris doesn't know what he's buying.
He's bought them from a dealer who's a member of no association whatsoever,
doesn't know what he's selling,
and in fact has just sold Chris a complete load of rubbish.
Later, the stars tell us what they think of the autograph fakers.
Yes, yes, it makes me very angry.
And we take a closer look at some of the worst forgeries.
That should be spelt M-U-H,
Just look at this stuff.
Bags, toys, computer games, perfumes, clothing, watches...
All brand-spanking new,
but all 100% fake.
And this is just some of the illegal products
that criminals try to smuggle into the country,
all hidden amongst millions of tonnes of goods
that come into Britain via its busiest container port.
It's 9.30am at Felixstowe docks
and UK Border Agency officer Andy Cartwright
has come to take a closer look at a container
that's just arrived from China.
It's supposed to be carrying kitchen equipment,
but Andy has reason to believe it contains something else.
Basically, we've got a 20ft container.
We've put it through our X-ray scanner
and the scanner team have highlighted areas that we need to look at.
Andy and his team set about looking inside.
It's supposed to be dish drainers, kitchenware,
and general kitchen utilities, really.
It doesn't look like that at the moment, but everything's packaged up.
Until we open the packages we can't tell.
And it's not long before Andy's suspicions start to grow.
We've just found a carton that's covered in carbon paper.
It's unusual. You wouldn't expect to find cardboard with carbon paper on it in this type of container.
And it's not just one carton,
all the side boxes have got the same carbon paper on them
and Andy thinks he knows why.
Somebody's tried to shield X-rays,
possibly, by the use of carbon paper.
I'm not aware that that actually works,
but somebody's tried it.
There would be no other reason to have boxes coated in carbon paper.
When the team start opening the main load,
it's soon clear why somebody would want to try and conceal it.
Basically. it's a master carton with cigarettes in.
They appear to be Regal brand.
My guess would be that they're counterfeit.
Chances are the rest of the load's the same.
We've got a packet of 20 cigarettes.
It's got markings that you'd expect to see on a packet of cigarettes.
There's a health warning on the rear of the packet.
On the side it says they're made in the United Kingdom
by Imperial Tobacco Ltd.
That in itself would lead you to suspect that something's wrong.
We don't normally import British-manufactured cigarettes from China.
They're definitely not kitchen equipment.
Might be in some kitchens, but not in mine.
For the customs officers of the Port of Felixstowe
this kind of incident is far from rare.
Felixstowe is responsible for over 40% of all container shipping
coming into the UK.
The Border Agency officers here
are the thin blue line between UK consumers
and the flood of fake goods coming from the Far East.
Felixstowe's importance to the UK economy
can't really be underestimated.
It's a massive element in the UK supply chain and logistics base.
We get a huge range of counterfeited products through Felixstowe.
We've had medicines counterfeited,
contraceptive devices counterfeited, brakes, car parts.
There's even been counterfeit aircraft parts.
Anything that's produced and costs money
and is expensive to produce,
somebody is likely to try and counterfeit it.
Andy's team set about unloading their haul
but before they get too far,
something stops them in their tracks.
Having looked at the door now, there appears to be a device.
It may well be an electrical device.
I don't want to mess around with it because I don't know what's in it.
There has been information of booby-trapped devices found in containers.
There's been explosives, there's been poisons.
Normal containers we get in here don't have attachments like this on it.
There's something seriously wrong.
We'll wait for the police's decision and go along with their wishes.
Coming up, the police take a closer look at that mysterious device.
Isn't it a horrible feeling
finding one of these on our car?
A parking ticket.
But after seeing our next story, you might want to take a closer look at that ticket.
It might not be what it seems.
If it's anything like this one, it could be a fake.
Wolverhampton on a wet Tuesday afternoon
and the city's top Trading Standards officer
is inspecting a local car park.
It's a prime parking location for people who want to shop here
or for people who work in some of the surrounding offices.
It might not look like much, but two years ago,
this space was at the centre of a new type of fakery
which has since spread across the country.
Sales manager John Walton was one of the people using the car park.
I was doing shopping for my mother, which I do most weeks.
I've always parked there.
It's been a derelict space for a number of years now.
I parked there, I walked up to the market way up there.
But when he came back, he was in for a shock.
This official ticket was on my windscreen.
It was signed and folded up,
it was all printed properly
and it was stuck to my windscreen
in a proper envelope that traffic wardens use.
I thought it was from Wolverhampton Council.
The ticket cost John £85 and he wasn't the only motorist to get such a penalty
from a company calling itself Midland Parking Solutions.
Wolverhampton Trading Standards were soon getting plenty of complaints.
When Peter's team looked into them, it was clear the tickets were fakes.
On the tickets they said, "Working with Wolverhampton City Commerce"
and a lot of people assumed that meant they were working with the city council,
because they'd laid that statement out in the way the council does on its own parking tickets.
The other issue was they were quoting legislation which only applied to local authorities.
So it made it look as though the company had a sort of statutory basis for doing this
and as a result, a lot of people felt they were duty-bound to pay up.
Not only were these parking tickets fakes,
but they were deliberately copied to look just like the official ones.
I've got two tickets here.
That's the city council one.
That's an MPS one.
What we believe MPS did, was acquired a council parking ticket.
We believe they then scanned them and simply amended some of the council data
to be their own data
because the tickets are very similar.
A lot of people who complained to the council
believed the council had issued these tickets, or at least MPS were a council contractor.
Peter and his team were on the heels of the MPS boss Cliff Hoffman.
They decided to raid his premises.
We found evidence of round about £30,000
over the period they issued the tickets.
They probably made more than that
because their records were quite sketchy.
Peter brought charges against Cliff Hoffman.
It was hoped this would force him to stop,
but instead, he just changed his tactics,
moving from fake tickets, to fake clamping,
as Trevor Simms discovered when he parked here,
in a quiet side street on his way to watch his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.
We're all season ticket holders at the Wolves.
I've been coming up for 15, 16 years.
It seemed to be, park at the same spot.
We came down, parked here, before we went up to match. Never had no problems.
It's a pain in the bum to get out after the match,
but parking - there's never been a problem.
But at the end of the match, there was a problem.
It was cold, miserable, lost 1-0.
Came back, my car wasn't there.
Then someone tapped me on the shoulder and said,
"Excuse me, have you had your car gone?"
I said "Yeah, ours is gone as well."
"Ours is gone as well." I thought,
"What the hell's going on. Where have all these cars disappeared?"
One of the other guys came up and says,
"Have you seen that on the wall?"
It was just a small sign saying
that if you park here, you will get clamped.
The sign belonged to MPS Parking
and when Trevor phoned up to ask where his car was,
he was told if he wanted it back, it would be a whopping £450.
I was absolutely livid inside, I really were.
I just felt like someone had come up to me with a gun and said,
"Give me all your money in your wallet
"or else I'm going to blow your brains out."
What made it worse for Trevor
is that the clampers themselves were a complete fake.
The company didn't have an SIA licence to clamp.
The people they used to physically do the clamping
were actually door supervisors, i.e. bouncers,
not authorised clampers.
So what they were doing was wholly unlawful.
The case came to court and Cliff Hoffman was jailed for six months.
I did inside get a nice, warm feeling to think,
"Well, you know what it's like now you've been clamped up now, don't you?
"It's your turn. Let's see how you like it."
We're at Autographica,
the world's largest autograph show.
People have come from all over Britain to meet the stars
and to buy and sell their autographs.
-My hand's getting very tired.
-I just love to meet the people.
Autographica is a model of the legitimate side of the industry.
They're certainly all authentic signatures,
there's no question about that.
The stars themselves are equally concerned about people taking advantage of their fans.
There's nothing like seeing your autograph on a photo
that you know you didn't write.
It's really a bad, bad situation.
I was appalled when I heard that people were selling things
that weren't celebrities' actual autographs.
I can see that if you want to be unscrupulous
and make a bit of money on the side, you could fake it, couldn't you?
For someone to take advantage of that and say,
"This is so-and-so's autograph",
and it really isn't, that's lying.
It makes me very angry.
It doesn't have integrity, that bothers me.
Telling real autographs from the forgeries
is made harder by the fact that it's common practice in the entertainment industry
to give out celebrity signatures not signed by the stars themselves.
Garry King keeps a folder of ones to watch out for.
A secretarial signature
is one where a secretary of the person
has signed the item on behalf of the star.
So they have said to them, "Sign my mail for me."
And they sign it.
So here we have a Clint Eastwood secretarial signature.
That's the standard one. If you write to Clint Eastwood, that's what you're likely to get back.
If it looks exactly like that, it's not Clint Eastwood,
it's his secretary.
Here we have David and Victoria Beckham.
It's quite a common one to find,
but both of them are rubber stamps
so they're not real signatures at all.
But under an eyeglass like this
you can see them.
The celebrities also employ technology
to keep up with the thousands of signed items their fans ask for.
There's other things to look for.
Autopens - that's a machine that creates a signature using a pen.
So if it's on a photograph or on an album page, or indeed anything,
it will look just like a real signature
because it's been created with a pen.
Autopens and secretarial signatures are not done to defraud fans,
but rather to keep their insatiable appetite for signatures satisfied.
However, unscrupulous traders will try and take advantage
and sell them as if they were the real thing.
This is a Neil Armstrong autopen signature.
Neil Armstrong is a very much in-demand signature.
One of those photographs, authentically signed,
could easily cost you £3,000 or £4,000.
Printed facsimile signatures are also common
and fraudsters have been known to take advantage of these too.
This is a good one -
it's a Bobby Moore signature.
That one's actually printed,
but the person who tried to sell it as genuine
has added some ink to the signature and then smudged it
to give the impression that it is a genuinely signed item,
when, in fact, it's just a printed signature from a book.
There are plenty of out-and-out forgeries as well.
That should be spelt M-U-H,
Here we have Bob Marley
on a photograph that was printed after he died.
A quick look online shows where these types of fakes end up -
on sale to you.
There are two very good examples of bad Michael Jackson forgeries.
If we look at this, we can see that the lines are wavy,
there are so many mistakes in it, it's so obviously a fake.
That particular signature is currently on offer at £195.
Anybody that buys that will certainly have a fake signature,
no question about that one whatsoever.
Autograph collecting might be a hobby for some,
but it's a livelihood for others.
Over the past three, four, five years,
I have known a number of dealers
who have either given up, or even gone bankrupt in some cases,
because so much of their business is taken away
by people on the internet auction sites
selling items that can always be lower
than the price of the genuine item.
Later on, we meet a fake Sean Connery...
-I've seen much better fakes than this.
-A fake Laurel and Hardy...
All of the letters actually bear very little comparison.
..and the woman who faked them.
In their battle against fake loans,
the South West England Illegal Money-Lending Team
is in action once again.
Today, head of the unit Alan Evans
is after not one, but two suspected loan sharks.
So what we're looking at doing today
is taking a local loan shark
and to actually destroy, dismantle and disrupt,
wherever we can, these individuals.
Alan's team head off to the main suspect's house to arrest him.
We're out this morning with the police and other agencies
to execute a warrant at the home address of a local businessman
who's suspected of being a loan shark.
At the house, the suspect's family get an unexpected wake-up call.
We are officers from the South West Illegal Money-Lending Team.
We are here with the police and Trading Standards and we have a warrant to search your premises.
Take us through to the room. No, we can't shut the door. We need to explain.
But there's a problem.
To the team's frustration,
the suspect himself is nowhere to be seen.
Can you come back into this room so I can speak to you, please?
Come on. Let's get some order in here. Right, now, listen.
When did your husband leave the house?
We're going to be searching the whole of the house, OK?
While they start the search,
Alan is left to work out where his alleged loan sharks might have gone.
The sale of fake loans often leaves a trail of destruction in its wake.
Carol Highton's son Brian committed suicide
after falling into debt with a loan shark.
For two years, Carol fought for justice for Brian.
Eventually, she found out about a new initiative,
the North West Illegal Money-Lending Team,
set up to deal with exactly this problem.
I went to see the head of this whole Illegal Money-Lending Team.
I told her everything and she said,
"I can't make any promises that we can do anything
"in relation to your son's case,
"but what I will say to you is
"we will certainly look into things."
Cheshire Police had also been investigating Paul Nicholson.
Within a matter of days, together with the Illegal Money-Lending Team,
they arrested Nicholson and raided his home,
where they found large quantities of cash and weapons.
They also discovered
he'd faked his application for a money-lending licence,
having lied about previous convictions.
At court, he was found guilty on 20 counts
and given an indefinite life sentence.
He was charged with illegal money-lending,
he was charged with a number of blackmails
and he was also charged with rape, and that tells you something.
Illegal debts, by the very nature of them,
are not enforceable by law.
So the only way that you can enforce those debts
is by fear and intimidation
and he took it to extremes.
He'd got the community in fear.
He destroyed people's lives.
Every time "guilty" got called... Oh, honestly, it was just...
I wanted to scream.
It's mixed feelings.
You want to scream with happiness -
-at last this
-- sorry - has got convicted.
But then at the same time, I'm sat in a courtroom
having to listen to everything he did to other people
which echoed what he did to my child.
Coming up, Alan finds his suspected loan sharks and a ton of their cash.
In this bag alone is around about £50,000.
At Felixstowe docks, a Border Agency team
have been forced to stop their interception of a massive haul of fake cigarettes
after discovering this -
an electronic device attached to the door of the container.
Before they can inspect it, they want to make sure it's safe.
We're waiting for a Suffolk police unit to attend
to assess the situation.
When they do get there,
Suffolk police inspect the device.
The team wait anxiously while an officer talks it through with an expert.
After a thorough discussion,
the police conclude it's safe to remove it.
What they've found
is a highly sophisticated electronic smuggling tool.
It's about the size of a large hard drive from a computer.
It's sealed, very well-made,
and states that certain parts of it should be pointed towards the sky.
The fact that it should be pointing towards the sky
would tell me it's a GPS device.
Somebody wants to know
when this container door has been opened, basically.
The device appears to have been triggered magnetically.
From when the doors open, it operates a magnetic switch
and that has quite possibly told the smuggling organisation
that the container's been opened and that their load has been compromised.
It's a first for me. I've never seen one like this.
Whoever the tracker is meant to alert could be anywhere.
Wherever they are, they now know that thanks to the UK Border Agency,
their fake load has travelled across the world
to end up in the hands of the authorities.
On the other side of the port, team leader Karen Middleditch
is checking through another massive haul of counterfeit goods.
We have a full 40ft container load from China,
initially declared as handbags, shoes and purses.
But 20 years in customs work has given Karen a nose for hooky gear.
I wasn't happy with the paperwork.
The values were declared as very, very low,
like 1 per pair of shoes.
It just didn't seem like a proper load,
a proper invoice.
The smugglers have again made every effort
to obscure the true nature of their load.
Basically, this was the cover load of the consignment.
We have the shopping trollies which are here.
There's metal fittings for shelving.
In this, it looks like possibly a sofa.
Behind the cover load, the massive fake haul
is a mixture of different brands and products.
At the front are thousands and thousands of counterfeit trainers.
This is what I have today.
These are Adidas. We've now got some Nike trainers over here.
These aren't too bad a fake.
The only problem is they've just used the Nike's trade mark.
We've got Converse Allstars now and there's 20 pairs per carton
as opposed to 12 of the Nike and the Adidas.
Empty watch box with Rolex's brand name on it.
There is a possibility that there could be counterfeit Rolex watches
somewhere else within the load.
Fake watches, fake boxes, jewellery, handbags
and 6,000 pairs of trainers.
It's a marathon haul for Karen.
Not a bad morning's work.
The seizure we've got today
is around £1.5 million to £2 million worth in value on the street.
That's the biggest one we've had this year.
Back at the fake fags seizure,
and officers have discovered another desperate ruse by the smugglers
to literally throw them off the scent.
Inside these cartons they've put coffee beans.
The reason why we have seen coffee beans in concealments before
is to put detector dogs off the scent.
These are pretty stale, so I'm not sure how effective they would have been.
It's another unusual aspect to this particular load.
But it's too late to put these officers off.
A quick tally and they've got a total.
The final total - 3.699 million cigarettes. It's an awful lot.
From a duty-able point of view, about £750,000.
You know, it's very satisfying.
At the end of the day,
we're depriving an organised crime syndicate
from a large amount of money.
That's what we're here for. That's what people want to do.
That's why they come to work - to find smuggled goods, illicit goods,
illegally imported goods. Unsafe goods as well.
In the world of autograph collecting,
we've seen the shocking tricks some forgers will resort to
to get memorabilia collectors to part with their cash.
The person has added some ink to the signature and then smudged it
to give the impression that it is a genuinely signed item.
But not all signature-forgers get away with it.
Three years ago, Trading Standards' Steve Adie
received a complaint from a disgruntled autograph collector.
The nature of the complaint from a member of the public
who'd bought an autograph via eBay's website
was that the autograph was purported to be that of Sean Connery
but the purchaser had doubts that it was actually signed by Sean Connery.
The autograph was sold by a dealer called Louise Marney.
Trading Standards got in touch with Garry King
to act as an expert witness.
Now, this is the Louise Marney example of Sean Connery.
These three examples here are all Sean Connery signatures taken from documents.
As you can see, the S, again,
is nothing like Sean Connery's S.
Sean's S tends to look like a swan and leans back slightly,
whereas Louise Marney's S bears no resemblance to a swan whatsoever.
The C, again, is quite a large C.
She comes well down below the 'onnery' part of Connery,
whereas Sean never does.
The Y on 'Connery' has a very curving tail,
whereas Sean almost always comes straight down.
I've seen much better fakes than this for Sean Connery,
but that's not a good example at all.
Garry's report was enough to initiate a raid on Louise Marney's home,
where they found more dubious signatures.
This time, Laurel and Hardy's,
which turned out to be another fine mess she'd got herself into.
All of the letters actually bear very little comparison
with the ones which Louise Marney has been doing.
And her Oliver Hardy autograph would appear to have been signed from beyond the grave.
Oliver Hardy would have actually been dead
when the felt-tip pen was first brought onto the market in 1964.
Ollie died in 1957.
But Laurel and Hardy weren't the only fake signatures
that Steve was able to link Louise Marney to.
We discovered that Louise Marney
had purchased 1,500 celebrity photographs.
Those photographs subsequently appeared on eBay
as signed autographed photos.
You've got sports stars, movie stars of all descriptions, pop stars
and people like Princess Diana.
We were able to show
that almost 5,000 celebrity autographs had been sold
giving a monetary value of £30,000.
With the case against her overwhelming,
she soon found herself in court.
She denied that she was aware that they were forgeries.
Her explanation was that some other person
had provided her with autographed photos to sell.
Louise Marney was convicted of fraud and received a suspended 42-week prison sentence
and 200 hours of community service.
There's undoubtedly other victims out there
and those victims will be perhaps unaware at this stage
that they have a forged autograph
and they may well have passed them on to others,
or will pass them on to others in the future.
With me is Dave Davies from the Autograph Fair Trade Association Limited, AFTAL.
-Talk to me about these.
-There's two images of Sir Geoff Hurst,
World Cup 1966, scoring the goal.
-One is genuine and one is a fake. Now, Dom, which one's which?
As a layman, I haven't got a clue here.
-Because that's black and white - too obvious - that's genuine.
We need to stress right from the off,
that not all autographs are fake.
There are thousands and thousands of autographs that are genuine.
We know that. How do we tell which ones are fake and which ones aren't?
It's all about the person you buy it from.
Be safe and secure and stick to somebody that is qualified in doing what they're doing.
People think because you have a certificate of authenticity, that's it.
-So could the certificate be a fake as well as the autograph?
You could go to an AFTAL dealer.
What exactly is the AFTAL organisation?
We're an association of dealers and all these dealers have been checked out.
At the moment, we are the only UK organisation
that are policing the autograph market.
It's better to be safe than sorry.
Alan Evans is on the trail of fake loans.
His team is searching a suspected loan shark's home,
-but he's long gone.
-When did he leave the house?
However, it takes more than that
to make Alan give up on a suspected loan shark.
And some new information sees him back on the road.
We're going to this man's place of business
and we hope to effect an arrest there.
And there he is.
His office might not look like much,
but Alan believes he's linked to millions of pounds of fake loans.
You don't have to say anything but it may harm your defence
if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you later rely on in court.
So now we'll take you back to the police station
where we can get through the process of interviewing you and that.
One down, one to go.
There is a second suspect we're still looking for at this point in time, yes.
And it's not long before he too turns up and is promptly cuffed.
He'll be taken to the police station, booked in,
and he'll be questioned later on by officers from the Illegal Money-Lending Team.
A very good morning's work but it's going to be a long day to come.
His suspected loan shark is in the bag.
Alan heads back to the house to see if the search there has uncovered any useful evidence
and his undercover team have some good news.
Just about every area we went into, we found large amounts of cash.
In this bag alone is around about £50,000.
Between the three bags here, we believe we have around about £200,000 in cash.
Every drawer in every bedroom had large amounts of money,
folded in 50s and 20s, in bulging envelopes.
Every briefcase, every one we opened was full of cash,
secreted all over the house.
Not only did they find a ton of cash,
the team also think they've hit the jackpot.
We found a large amount of records in relation to loans which have been made to people across a wide area.
We have an enormous amount of paperwork and evidence
to go through here and hopefully over the next few days
we'll be able to sort it and come to some sort of final conclusion
and we can go back and question these individuals.
Carol Highton succeeded in getting the loan shark who caused her son to commit suicide jailed.
However, that's not the end of her fight. She's since set up
the Brian Shields Trust, a charitable hotline
that helps people in debt to illegal money lenders.
But today, she's come with the Birmingham Illegal Money Lending Team
to see if they'll be able to seize assets from Paul Nicholson,
such as his houses, cash and cars.
The result is good.
The judge says the team can take close to £1 million of his ill-gotten gains.
I couldn't ask for a better result, really, to be honest.
To know that everything's been taken off this man and his associates
means a lot personally for me for what happened to my son.
Nothing will ever be able to compensate me for my loss.
I just think that's justice, really.
With me now is Carol.
Carol, what about the people now who have already made that move
and got a loan out with a loan shark? What should they do?
Don't be worried about coming forward.
Back in the day when this happened to Brian,
there was nothing really there for him to go to.
-Now there is.
Like the Illegal Money Lending Team. Whatever you tell them is in confidence.
What about people who have debt, credit of any sort, and they need some general advice?
There are services out there. There's the Credit Unions,
there's the CAB, there's the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.
There's lots of agencies and the Brian Shields Trust.
There's help out there if you need it. It's just knowing where to look.
Yes, there is help out there now and you don't need to hide
behind your door or sit and worry about things any more.
Just pick up the phone or you can go online.
Just sum everything up for me that we've discussed.
In one paragraph, what would it be?
Don't be afraid anymore of these bullies
or don't worry about debt itself.
It's only money, at the end of the day. Life's more important.
Just, if you need help, come forward and ask for it and you will get it.
That's all from Fake Britain today.
Bye for now.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Dominic Littlewood investigates the murky world of the loan sharks and follows the work of trading standards' illegal money lending teams.
There's the story of one heartbroken mother whose son committed suicide as his loan shark debts mounted. How celebrity autographs are being faked and sold on at exorbitant prices. How UK Border Agency teams are stopping millions of pounds worth of fake goods coming into the country via Felixstowe docks, and the sophisticated tracking devices used by criminals on their illegal consignments. Plus the fake parking tickets racket uncovered by Wolverhampton trading standards officers.