With Dominic Littlewood. We investigate the murky world of the loansharks and reveal the extraordinary case of the 78-year-old grandmother peddling fake loans.
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Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.
Welcome to Fake Britain.
Police! Police officers. Stand where you are!
You're under arrest.
In this series I'm going to be investigating the criminals
who make their money at your expense.
And I'm going to show you how not to get ripped off.
We look at the world of fake loans,
and meet the 78-year-old grandmother who peddled them.
We found that she was in fact running a mini mafia.
We meet the young mum arrested for claiming someone had faked her credit card.
You can't imagine what it's like to be accused of something you haven't done.
We go on a fake hen night, organised specially to catch a criminal putting lives in danger.
Basically he was a menace to the public.
And we test the fake brake pads that are an accident waiting to happen.
The worst-case scenario we're talking about here is someone losing their life.
Do you ever take the trouble to sit down and go through your bank statements?
If you do, occasionally you might spot something on there that you don't recognise.
The chances are it's just something you've forgotten about.
Then again, it could be a fake transaction.
Still, if it is, not a problem.
Contact your bank and talk it though with them.
After all, they'd never think it's you that's trying to defraud them, would they?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
That's 10 police officers come to arrest a suspected fraudster and search their home.
And the suspect in question was this woman - wife and mother Jane Badger.
And this was the start of the worst nine months of her life,
all because someone somewhere had managed to fake her credit card.
The only thing I can describe it as is a living nightmare.
Jane's troubles began a few years ago when she noticed an unexpected debit from her bank account of £772.
The money had gone to pay off three cash withdrawals
she'd supposedly made from ATMs using her Egg credit card.
She was confused because she'd shredded her Egg card and paid off all her debts the previous year.
She contacted Egg to find out more.
She gave me the dates. The dates were in January.
I knew the card had been shredded
by the dates when they were saying it was
because I shredded it myself.
Assuming she'd been a victim of a fake, cloned credit card,
Jane decided to try and claim the money back
and therefore reported it to her local police,
which happened to be where she worked as a civilian assistant.
She had heard little more until, a few weeks later, she got an unexpected knock at the door.
All captured on her security camera.
OK, this is where they first pull up.
Amazingly, the police station she worked at
had sent officers to her house.
I knew all these officers.
And it wasn't for a friendly chat.
I'm sitting in the living room.
Obviously they knock at the front door.
We go into the kitchen and that's when the DI explains to me
I'm being arrested for fraud by false representation.
I was in my pyjamas and I had to go up and get dressed
and I was followed by the female DC,
which I've known for a number of years.
She actually watched me get dressed. I was absolutely devastated.
Obviously the children - totally bewildered.
Jane couldn't understand why reporting a credit card fraud had led to her own arrest.
She was told that because her card was a new chip and PIN one, it was unclonable.
Because of this, they said the only person who could have made the transactions was Jane herself.
Therefore, the fact she'd tried to claim the money back
meant she was trying to defraud Egg.
I was just in shock.
Total shock. I thought they'd obviously got it so wrong here.
And this is the moment Jane was led away by police
from her home and her children,
and taken to the police station for questioning.
I don't think I was thinking anything.
Think I was a little bit numb and not entirely sure what is going on at all.
In her absence, Jane's husband rushed back from work to look after the children.
The police searched her house from top to bottom.
Despite not finding anything incriminating,
she was charged with fraud by false representation
and suspended from her job.
Cos I couldn't prove that it wasn't me,
because obviously it was me versus Egg
and who are they going to believe?
The prison sentence hanging over Jane
took its toll on her mentally and emotionally.
I was a wreck.
I would be walking down the street and I'd be absolutely paranoid that
everybody that glanced at me thought I'd done a fraud.
You can't sleep, you can't eat, you can't concentrate on anything.
You just can't imagine what it must be like
to be accused of something that you haven't done
when you can't do anything about it.
One of Egg's adverts states...
Egg card. Yay. The fight is over.
Later, we see how Jane's fight had only just begun.
All I've ever wanted was an apology and for them to admit
they got it wrong.
It's 7am and the South West England Illegal Money-Lending Team is out in force
in their battle against fake loans
and the loan sharks that supply them.
We're off to see a suspected loan shark.
Wendy Loades is one of the team.
Her main role is in helping the victims of illegal money lenders.
But today, she's come to help search the house of a suspected loan shark.
A loan shark is an illegal, unlicensed money-lender,
preying on vulnerable people who can't borrow money through legitimate means.
We've managed to get a list
from his bank details
of how much money is going into his account.
There's quite a few victims on there.
I've seen a list of 20 but there could be a lot more.
They're anywhere from £5,000 to £100,000 loans.
The fake loans given out by loan sharks
come with exorbitant interest rates few can afford.
More often than not, they're backed up by threats and violence.
He's been lending money illegally to people
and also threatening people when they can't afford to pay it back.
The team arrest the loan shark and take him off for questioning.
Wendy's task now is to search his house for any evidence
that he might have illegally loaned people money.
They're looking for passports, rent books, cash cards belonging to other people.
They'll be seizing things like mobiles and computers, if there's any in there.
It's not long before the search throws up some revealing finds.
First up - three bags packed with cash.
We've found so far £12,000 in cash.
In drawers and cupboards and things was bundles and bundles of cash.
There's also £2,000 in there in coins in a big massive jar.
That'll be taken away and we have to see if we can trace that back
as to where that money's come from and whether it was in fact to do with the illegal lending business.
But what Wendy's really after is written evidence
linking the suspect to any fake loans he might have made.
And before long, she thinks she's hit the jackpot.
This is obviously a list of what appears to be names,
and also amounts beside the names.
These could be amounts that have been lended out illegally to people.
We're looking at amounts anywhere from £70 there,
up to £4,400 there.
Hopefully we can try and match some names up with people
and I can go out and pay them a visit
find out exactly what these lists are all about.
This is what we're looking for when go into the home of a suspected loan shark.
It could well be a key bit of evidence, yes.
There are hundreds and hundreds of loan sharks around, possibly thousands of loan sharks,
doing damage to a lot of people, threatening people's lives.
Later, the Illegal Money Lending Team bring down another loan shark.
We entered the property and we found money and loan books.
If you drive a car,
you will rely on them to keep you and your family safe.
One day, they will probably save your life.
But most people don't even give them a second thought.
What am I talking about?
Well, in one of the most terrifying examples of fakery I've ever come across,
it appears not even the brakes on your car are safe from the criminal counterfeiters.
This car can go from 0-60 in nine seconds.
And it can also go from 60 to stationary in less than three seconds thanks to these...
They're arguably the most important part of your car,
and the most important part of the brake, is this -
the brake pad.
One person who knows how a brake pad should work is Ian Featherstone,
technical manager with brake pad makers TMD.
You drive down the road, you press the brake,
you're trying to stop this disc moving.
What you have is two pads clamping together on both faces of the disc.
Inboard and outboard of the disc.
By pressing those pads onto that disc
you get the stopping power required to stop as you drive down the road.
Without that piece you would not be able to stop, simple as that.
All brake pads must meet rigid EU standards.
Which is why the discovery of a cache
of what appeared to be Volkswagen branded brake pads
in a garage in Northern Ireland recently
raised some serious concerns.
The brake pads came to our attention following a tip-off
from Volkswagen UK.
They contacted us saying they had information that counterfeit
brake pads were being sold in Northern Ireland from retail premises and from suppliers.
When we heard that brake pads were being counterfeited we were quite alarmed.
We went out to premises that we knew were likely to be selling them
and carried out seizures on those premises.
Ultimately if someone's had counterfeit brake pads installed in their car
you're running the risk of someone losing their life.
Damien and his team managed to take several hundred of the pads off the market.
He believes the retailers that sold them weren't even aware they were in possession of fakes.
Visually, the brake pads and the packaging they came in
are almost identical to the genuine product,
but the counterfeiters did make some mistakes.
The first and most noticeable
identifier of the counterfeit product is the product is branded as being
a Wasserpumpe, the German for water pump.
Obviously these items aren't water pumps, they're brake pads.
There's also a tamper-proof seal on the genuine product as well
which doesn't exist in the counterfeit.
On the brake pads themselves,
some of the engraving on the side doesn't marry up with the genuine product.
There's spelling mistakes, there's engraving errors.
Damien sent samples of the seized brake pads for testing.
He knew they were illegally infringing copyright,
but were they dangerous as well?
Later we put the fake brake pads to the test.
The worst-case scenario we're talking about here is someone losing their life.
And we're out with the team dedicated to fighting computer game piracy.
We've a warrant for the premises. He's supplying counterfeit computer games.
A freezing December night in Wolverhampton and 11 girls are on a hen do with a difference.
There's dancing, drinking and a fun-time fireman in tow.
Nothing strange there.
Except this hen do is actually an undercover Trading Standards sting operation
and the fireman in question is the one causing the emergency
rather than dealing with it.
The story starts when Wolverhampton Trading Standards
were alerted to a local limo firm run by Darryl Williams.
The business Oddball Limos
hired out novelty limousines.
The one we were particularly interested in
was a fire engine known as the Oddity.
Oddball's vehicles weren't just odd,
their limo business was a complete fake.
He hadn't got an operator's licence for the fleet.
It's just like sticking a taxi sign on top of your car
and collecting fares in the street.
It is unlicensed, it's unregulated and it puts passengers at risk
in the event of an accident because the whole insurance basis is invalid.
And nothing worried Peter's team more than the Oddity's dance floor.
On the back had been built a flat metal area
which was said to be a dance floor.
Round that it had big tubular railings with big gaps between them
and also a big gap between the railings and the floor.
If you slipped and fell over,
you could easily fall off the vehicle into the road.
These were hired out to things like stag parties, hen parties
and, we thought much more worryingly, children's end-of-term proms.
With fake limos loose on their streets,
Wolverhampton Trading Standards felt they had to stop Williams
sooner rather than later.
But to do that they needed to prove that he was hiring out his vehicles on a commercial basis.
We decided the only way to deal with this
was to actually set up Oddball Limos
for a journey carrying more than eight people
to prove he was using it as a public service vehicle.
And so on an evening just before Christmas,
11 volunteers from the city council
met up here at a pub in central Wolverhampton for a fake hen do.
And there to meet them is Daryl Williams and his potential death trap.
It might look like a party,
but the task ahead for the ladies from the local authority
is far from straightforward.
It was a very complicated operation to set up.
Never before have we put 11 female officers in Santa hats on the back of a fire engine.
We were all getting into the mood.
He's egging us along by opening the champagne
in a rude fashion.
Meanwhile, other Trading Standards officers and police
are sat waiting in an unmarked police car just around the corner.
Sure enough, just after 8pm,
Darryl Williams and his Oddball fire limo move off.
As soon as he moved the vehicle on the public highway with 11 passengers,
he needed an operator's licence he didn't have.
What we wanted to do was show that he was prepared to let people dance on the vehicle,
so that's what the undercover officers did.
While the girls do their best to pretend they're enjoying themselves, the police get ready to pounce.
We were very aware that
they were going to pull us over and we were also aware of what car
they were in and that they were following us.
It's not long before the cops have seen enough...
Here we are. Public road.
People on the back of the wagon.
Do you know what? I'm happy enough with that.
..and decide to gatecrash the party.
The police take the Oddity off to a secure council car park where they can check over the vehicle.
The girls, meanwhile, are led away,
their fake hen do having come to a premature end.
Darryl Williams was charged with 15 offences,
including using a vehicle in a dangerous condition
and unfair commercial practices.
He was found guilty, fined £8,700
and suspended from driving for six months.
Basically he was a menace to the public.
We thought this was an excellent result
because the court reflected on the way he put members of the public at risk
and awarded penalty points which meant he couldn't drive for six months,
which effectively took him off the road.
Jane Badger is an East Midlands wife and mother.
Her life was turned upside down early one morning
when ten policemen raided her house and arrested her.
I was absolutely devastated and obviously the children - just totally bewildered.
You just can't imagine what it must be like
to be accused of something you haven't done
when you can't do anything about it.
Charged with fraud, Jane was suspended from her job
working in a civilian role with the police,
the very same officers that had arrested her.
But some weeks into her suspension,
Jane at last found someone who believed her, and not only that,
they thought they could prove her innocence.
Professor Ross Anderson has been a long-standing critic
of banks' so-called infallible security systems like chip and PIN.
He says Jane is far from the only person to have experienced a so-called phantom withdrawal.
Phantom withdrawals are surprisingly common.
We get a steady stream of people complaining
that money has been taken from stolen credit and debit cards through ATMs,
even when it was completely impossible for them to have compromised the PIN.
This happened in 2007
in the village of Houghton on the Hill, Leicestershire,
where 500 customers of a petrol station
had a total of £175,000 illegally debited from their accounts.
The crime was traced to an employee at the garage, Abdul Raik,
who used a fake card reader to clone their cards
and pass the details on to Sri Lankan criminals.
However, because there was a clear pattern of fraud,
all the victims were refunded by their banks, no arguments.
Jane wasn't so lucky.
Once he'd looked at the case, Professor Anderson
was convinced there were plenty of ways Jane's transactions
could have been made that didn't involve her.
It may very well be that the phantom withdrawals that appeared on her account
were the result of a programming error
which caused transactions to be debited more than once.
Another theory was someone had made a fake copy of her card
and found a cash machine that still allowed them to make withdrawals
using the magnetic strip on the back of the card,
thereby circumventing its chip and PIN security.
The UK banking industry has for years been systematically trying to deceive the public
in saying that UK cards with chips in them
cannot be used in ATMs in Britain in magnetic strip mode,
but this is simply false.
We have tested their claims again and again and again.
We go out, we take a card where we've destroyed the chip,
and we have no difficulty using it somewhere.
After Professor Anderson began raising his objections,
Egg experienced a dramatic change of heart,
admitting they'd made a mistake.
All charges were dropped.
For Jane, it was a final vindication.
I actually went to court and I was acquitted.
I was a bit hysterical, as you can imagine I would be.
There was people in the court that I didn't even know coming up and hugging me.
Despite eventually having the charges against her dropped
and being reinstated in her job,
Jane received no direct apology from either the police or Egg.
If I'd been found guilty, I could have gone to prison.
I would have lost my job.
It would have meant my family...
Their lives were tipped upside down as well.
You know, I am still Mum but I could be Mum with a criminal record.
You'd never get insurance, things like that.
Nobody would look at you.
Everyone would walk past you and think,
"You're just a criminal. You're no better than anyone else."
They just presumed I was a criminal,
they were just going down that angle, I'd committed that fraud.
Nobody else had committed that fraud because cloning, chip and PIN fraud,
and things like that, doesn't happen in their eyes. But it does.
After complaining to the Financial Ombudsman,
Egg paid her £772 back,
adding a £500 payment for any inconvenience caused.
Given what she went through, if this had happened in the USA,
the damages would have been in seven figures.
Why should the police intervene like this in a civil dispute?
It's completely wrong, and it's completely bizarre.
All I've ever wanted was an apology and for them to admit they got it wrong.
That's all I've ever wanted.
I just want to know why.
Why could they get it so wrong?
James, you're from Which?, the consumer magazine.
Just how big a problem are phantom withdrawals and credit card fraud?
Card fraud is a massive problem.
There's hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of card fraud
being committed every year in the UK,
but consumers usually get their money back.
The tricky cases are the ones where the right PIN is used
and banks are increasingly saying that must have been the consumer's fault.
They must have been negligent in some way.
But actually that's not always the case. In fact, it usually isn't.
One of the things that we've seen a real increase on in recent years
That's where organised gangs actually go into crowded places,
look over people's shoulders, see them typing in their PIN,
then later they try and intercept the card, maybe steal it from a bag,
then take cash out the cash point later on.
In those cases, obviously the right card's being used, the right PIN is being used,
and yet the customer's done nothing wrong.
If that's on the increase what's the advice?
You've got to be really careful
when you're doing any debit or credit card transactions these days.
Actually shield your PIN number as you're typing it in.
Never hand your card over to the person behind the till.
There's no need to. You can put your card into the machine yourself.
Then of course shred all your paperwork at home.
Take the normal precautions to protect yourself against fraud.
If you do that it's hard for a bank to claim you're negligent.
If somebody spots what they believe to be a fraudulent transaction
on their bank or their credit card statement, what's your advice?
Call your bank straightaway and say, "This wasn't me.
"These transactions weren't me. I need my money back."
If there's any problem and they don't refund you immediately, make a complaint.
Mark the letter clearly to the complaints department.
If you don't get the response you want, take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service,
where you'll get an independent set of eyes looking over your case.
Like I say, the law's on your side here
and you should end up getting your money back.
It's one of the fastest-growing industries in the world
and in the UK it's worth over £3 billion a year.
But for all its success, the computer gaming business
is fighting a desperate battle of its own against the counterfeiters.
You see, by using illegal pirating devices like this,
the fakers are making money out of the talent and hard work of others.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Local police and Trading Standards are being briefed on their operation to arrest
a suspected manufacturer of fake computer games.
He's supplying counterfeit computer games and we've a warrant for the premises.
The operation has been set up by the investigations team
of the UK's computer game publishers' association UKIE, headed by John Hillier.
We're just off now to the home address of the target.
He will be arrested shortly at his workplace.
He will be brought back to the house
so that the search of his premises can be carried out.
He has been selling illegally copied games on his website on the internet.
We have made a test purchase and then brought the evidence to Trading Standards and the police.
There's evidence that he's been making literally thousands of pounds in a very short period of time.
As planned, the suspect has been arrested where he works.
The police bring him to his flat where he's been asked to co-operate with their search of his premises.
John moves in to join them.
John wants to see exactly what's inside the suspect's accommodation.
He's hoping to find evidence of the suspect's fake games,
or months of investigation will have been wasted.
As well as the fake games themselves,
John's on the look-out for circumvention devices,
like these ones he's seized from other raids.
They're illegal micro-chips which are inserted into games consoles
to get round security and enable the machines to play the fake games.
In the industry, it's known as chipping, flashing or modding.
We have a selection of these items.
They're all called by different names.
M3, DS Real,
N5 and PS3 Jailbreak.
It's a constant battle with all the criminals
to overcome the ways in which they circumvent their consoles.
These chips are illegal to import, advertise or sell.
Criminals offer them for anything from £15 to £45 a time.
It's a lucrative market for criminals that trade in it.
At the raid, John thinks he's found what he's looking for.
It might not look like much,
but to John it's a Super Mario world of fake games and pirating equipment,
which the suspect is believed to use to make thousands of pounds from his illegal business.
This is the computer that he's been using
and a pile of blank discs ready as well to use.
Here you can see he's been in the process of burning some games.
We suspect that the evidence would be on the computer, on the hard drive.
John takes a closer look at what games the suspect has already burnt onto discs.
This is where he's been printing on the printer labels
and then sticking them onto the front of a game.
It's another EA game, FIFA 10.
It makes it look more original and may fool people.
As you can see, all these games he's been printing off.
And on the other side of the room,
John spots more examples of the suspect's fakery.
You have some blank Xbox 360 boxes.
As well as the empty boxes and fake discs,
the suspect has been printing out fake copies
of the game sleeves as well.
It's the complete fake package.
And there's more.
John finds modified consoles and some circumvention devices.
They're parts of the system whereby you circumvent the Xbox 360 console.
The computer games industry is enormous business in the UK,
worth over £3 billion a year.
It's also one of our most successful exports.
The UK has a history of great games production
from Tomb Raider and Lara Croft to the Grand Theft Auto series,
and more recently games like Little Big Planet, Singstar.
Today, games that are produced and developed in the UK
are worth over £1 billion in exports
so it brings in very important revenue to this country.
But all that's threatened by games piracy.
Miles Jacobson runs games developer Sports Interactive.
This is our main programming area.
They're responsible for the Football Manager series of games
and employ over 70 full-time production staff.
A couple of years ago we were actually getting the details
of how many people
had pirated the game.
The stats really, really scared us.
For the one million legitimate customers, there were four million people pirating the game.
At least 45% of people playing the game in the UK were playing pirated copies,
which is a huge stat.
Miles believes the market in fake games threatens the creative lifeblood of the UK economy.
The amount of development studios that have gone under in the last three years is staggering.
I think the big battle is trying to keep people based in the UK
and working from the UK and keeping the talented directors and producers and programmers
based over here, rather than going to other countries.
Losses to the industry caused by fake games are estimated at £350 million a year.
It's a lucrative market for UK criminals
like games pirater Steve Adams.
He was sent to prison for three years for running a pirated games empire worth over £200,000
across the Midlands and north-west of England.
Adams used the money to fund such worthy causes as his wife's boob job and a gastric band for himself.
Trading Standards raided his home
and seized his copying equipment and 32,000 discs.
He was convicted of 50 trade mark offences.
His failure to pay a court order
of £109,000 has meant he's been given another two years inside.
Any pirater who takes somebody else's creativity
and who deprives someone
who has invested real time and effort in creating the content
is a criminal.
If we don't make money from our work that's fine,
but someone completely unconnected,
who's had absolutely nothing to do with the process,
who's not paying any royalties back to anyone,
making money directly from your work, it's just wrong.
Back in Merseyside, and the suspected games faker
is led off to the police station for further questioning.
John meanwhile helps to bag and tag the evidence.
The Trading Standards will give us all equipment to examine forensically
and we will provide all the necessary evidence for any subsequent criminal court case.
We hope it provides a deterrent to those who think
they will get away with it and make lots of illegal money.
And when fake computer games and chipping devices are seized,
UKIE make sure they end up ground up.
Former Metropolitan Police Officer Alan Evans
is the head of the South West England Illegal Money Lending Team.
They're dedicated to stopping loan sharks
and the fake loans they peddle to the most vulnerable in society.
Many illegal money lenders
use intimidation and violence to keep their victims
paying their extortionate interest rates.
We've seen loan sharks charge phenomenal rates of interest.
One was charging 8.4 million percent.
These people had nowhere to go.
Alan says the problem's getting worse.
In three years, calls to his team's hotline have increased by 700%.
Most of these loan sharks fit a type.
I speak to people about loan sharks and I say to them,
"Can you describe a loan shark to me?"
They say, "Well, it's the big bruiser with the broken nose and a scar there."
But a few years ago, Alan's team started to receive complaints
about a very different loan shark.
Meet Joan Fionda, better known to her clients as Joan the Loan.
This woman goes against the grain.
She's a 78-year-old granny.
She uses a walking stick to get around.
Alan began looking into Joan Fionda's activities
after receiving desperate calls on the team's hotline
from victims who'd taken illegal loans from her.
We found that she was in fact running a mini mafia.
She'd taken control of a number of people's bank books,
bank accounts, benefit cards.
She was actually putting these people to work
as shoplifters and things like this in order to pay off the debts.
One victim was Sarah.
Both she and her daughter took loans from Joan Fionda.
As with many of her victims,
Joan forced Sarah's daughter to hand over her benefits book
in exchange for a loan, giving her total control over her income.
Joan the Loan, she would lend money,
but she had to have your social security book.
She would keep it
and then Joan would go to the Post Office to cash the money,
which was for her and the children.
Eventually, Sarah visited Joan
to beg her to stop loaning money to her daughter.
I said, "Look, please don't do this no more.
"She's on social security. She can never ever pay you this back.
"I'm asking you, Joan, please don't do it."
But she wouldn't stop.
Alan was finding more and more people like this caught up in Joan's net.
We had victims, these are vulnerable people,
who are in receipt of benefits from the state
to the value of something like £1,500 per month
and the money was being paid to Joan direct.
There were times when my daughter went to her and said,
"Can I have some of the money because I've got no food for the children?"
And she said no.
After months of investigation, Alan decided
it was time for his team to go in and arrest Joan Fionda.
My officers along with police officers executed the warrant.
We entered the property and we found various
hidden safes containing money and loan books.
She denied everything.
She put on the facade of being there to help the community.
But the strength of evidence against her was overwhelming.
Faced with having her own loan books used against her in court,
Joan eventually pleaded guilty to illegal money lending
and was given a 12-month supervision order,
only avoiding prison because of her age.
Alan says ending Joan's lending has had a marked effect
on the community she operated in.
The result has been tremendous for us.
Money is going back into the communities
and is being spent in the shops
instead of going into her pocket direct.
Since Joan Fionda's conviction, Sarah and her daughter,
along with the rest of her victims,
have had their illegal loans written off.
Sarah warns anyone thinking of becoming involved with a loan shark to keep well away.
Never go there. Never go down that way,
because you never get yourself out of it.
Go to get help.
There is help out there.
But people need to know there is help out there.
Northern Ireland Trading Standards have recently seized
300 pairs of fake brake pads, some of which were sold to the public.
If someone's had counterfeit brake pads installed in their car,
they're running the risk of someone losing their life.
We know the pads are fake but just how dangerous are they?
There's only one way to find out.
The pads are a direct copy of ones manufactured for the Volkswagen group
by brake pads specialists TMD.
Today, they've agreed to test the fake pads by putting them through an industry-standard examination.
The purpose of the test we'll carry out is to see
if the stopping distance of the fake pads
compared to the genuine equipment that should be fitted
is significantly different.
Ian's going to assess the brake pads' stopping distances
under the kind of temperatures they might be exposed to
if you were having to decelerate quickly and often on a busy motorway.
The car will make three stops at high speed in quick succession.
The crucial stop is the third one, when the pads will have warmed up.
If the material isn't right, the rise in temperature will hamper its performance.
The test that we're going to do here is only a three-stop test.
We're going to run from 100 kilometres an hour down to zero
at maximum deceleration possible, which means the driver
will be hitting the brake pedal with the maximum effort possible.
Then we'll see the difference in the stopping performance of the two materials.
The genuine brake pads will be tested first.
They're the same ones used in millions of Volkswagen Group cars across the world.
On board is sophisticated measuring equipment
which will show what distance it takes the car to go from
100 kilometres an hour, nearly 70 miles per hour, down to zero.
The car performs two stops.
And then the crucial third one.
The car's on-board computer measures the exact stopping distance.
Back at the garage, Ian gets the results.
You can see that the first stop we had 41.9 metres.
Stop three we had 40.9 metres.
So effectively we've seen no change in the stopping power between those three stops.
No change at all with the genuine material.
But how will that compare to the performance of the fake pads?
The team fit them into the car to find out.
It's then back to the track where the pads will be put through exactly the same test -
two preliminary stops at 100 kilometres per hour
and then the all-important third one.
The difference in braking distance between the real and fake pads
is clear to the naked eye.
But the real proof is in the distances measured by the on-board computer.
If you look at the fake product tested on the same vehicle
to the same conditions,
stop three with the genuine material had 40.9m.
Stop three with fake material,
we had 55 metres.
Almost 15 metres of difference.
It's a massive difference.
When you consider 15 metres is 40-some feet,
that's a queue lined up for a bus stop or it's three cars.
It is a long way just in three applications.
Watching the test results with interest
is an observer from the Volkswagen Group.
In a severe circumstance you might not be able to stop at all.
In more general driving, it will lengthen your stopping distances
under certain circumstances
and that may make the difference
between hitting a pedestrian or hitting another car.
Having an accident or not. Killing someone or not.
The worst-case scenario with these pads
is you're driving down the motorway at 70 mph,
go for your brakes in an emergency, you wouldn't be able to stop.
First and foremost, it is safety-critical and there is a danger for life.
That's quite clear from what we've seen today.
These pads are considerably outside acceptable safety tolerances.
When you have a safety critical component such as a brake pad
that doesn't meet or doesn't come anywhere near
the manufacturers' requirements, there is cause for concern.
Despite the swift action of Northern Ireland's Trading Standards team
and their seizure of hundreds of fake pads,
there are still concerns that there could be people driving around
with fake brake pads without even realising.
The chances are that there are more out there.
The likelihood of Trading Standards recovering every counterfeit pair
of brake pads in Northern Ireland is pretty slim,
to be honest.
The worst case scenario we're talking about is someone losing their life.
Someone has to brake very quickly
and the brake pad fails and who knows what could happen?
Ruth, your organisation campaigns against the trade in fakes.
Just how big a problem is it with counterfeit car parts?
Counterfeit car parts in general are a big problem globally.
We've been lucky so far in the UK,
except that I am worried about online
and that being our biggest challenge to come.
You're saying there's not many problems now but it'll get bigger?
I am very much afraid that this is the case.
We have evidence the activity generally of counterfeiting online
particularly is growing all the time.
One of the problems is that people can't see what they're buying,
so that what arrives might not be anything like what they thought they were going to be getting.
What other fake car parts are you aware of?
Apart from this case of fake brake pads that we've just seen,
there's definitely at least one other case of fake brake pads in the UK,
together with wiper kits, wiring kits,
headlamps and, perhaps most worryingly of all, airbags.
Now clearly there's not only a problem there with the performance in the car
but they are being posted and there are very strict regulations
about that because they contain explosives.
Probably lots of people are starting to panic
because they've might have bought some parts online
or from a boot fair or market stall.
What can they do if they want to check if it's genuine?
They should contact their Trading Standards department in their local council, their local authority.
That's the place to start.
The genuine manufacturers can help but really, of course,
it's nothing to do with them.
What can people do to try and eliminate buying a fake car part?
Look out for price, place and packaging.
Make sure that you're buying from a reputable dealer,
someone that you know, preferably.
Don't buy online from an unfamiliar website.
Don't buy from someone in a pub.
Don't go to a market stall and get something cheap,
which is probably off the back of a lorry or counterfeit.
Please don't think that you're going to get a bargain because you may be paying a lot more.
You could be paying with your life, Ruth.
That's all from Fake Britain today.
Bye for now.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
With Dominic Littlewood.
We investigate the murky world of the loansharks and reveal the extraordinary case of the 78-year-old grandmother peddling fake loans. We meet Jane Badger, who was arrested in her own home and accused of fraud, even though she was entirely innocent, because a fraudster had made fake withdrawals on her credit card.
We follow the story of the fake car brake pads being sold in Northern Ireland and see how they dramatically fail safety standards on the test track. We see a trading standards team as they go undercover, setting up a fake hen night to catch a limo company putting lives in danger.
And we follow the investigators targeting the fakers who are making money out of one of the UK's most successful industries - computer games.