Episode 4 Fake Britain


Episode 4

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Welcome to a world where nothing is quite as it seems.

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Welcome to Fake Britain.

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-Get down! Get down!

-Hands behind your back, now!

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In this series, I'm going to be investigating the world of the criminals

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who make their money at your expense.

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And I'm going to be showing YOU how NOT to get ripped off.

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On today's programme, the Federation Against Copyright Theft

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team up with police to raid a Chinese DVD factory in South London.

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This is £100,000 a week criminal profit.

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We tell the tale of the forger cashing in on some of Cornwall's greatest artists.

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They really wanted a genuine painting by my father

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and what they got were outright fakes.

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And we reveal the lethal toys entering Britain.

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That, in the back of a child's throat, would kill them.

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It was very hard to actually sit down and explain to them

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why they couldn't have these Christmas presents.

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It's a cold winter's morning in south London, and the Met Police's Tactical Support Group

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are getting ready for action.

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They're set for a raid on a suspected counterfeit DVD factory.

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And it's thought there could be up to 18 illegal Chinese immigrants working inside.

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Joining them are officials from the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

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We're with the Met Police. We're looking at six addresses today

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that are involved in counterfeiting, money laundering

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and exploitation of individuals as well.

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The signal's given, and they're off.

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SIRENS WAIL

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The vans race across London.

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These are precisely coordinated raids on a series of addresses across the area,

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so arriving at each one at just the right time is crucial.

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-Police!

-Police!

-Aaaah!

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As officers arrive at the property, someone sees a van drive off,

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and a group of the officers take off in pursuit.

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-Did you see that white van?

-Yeah.

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Do you want to chuck a couple in with me, and I'll go hunt it?

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Despite the suspicious van, there's no sign of anyone at the property.

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The kitchen area. Living area.

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It may SEEM like a normal flat,

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but upstairs there is something remarkable.

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Firstly into this room, and you'll see the reproduction factory there

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with the multiple burners, computers, and printer.

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It's a huge find for the team.

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In terms of what's in the boxes, what's in the machines in front of you,

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and then what's on the shelves behind you and in the next rooms...

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There is clearly pornographic material here, and in the neighbouring rooms

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you will also see what would be the normal Hollywood movies.

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Each title's got a number so they can easily identify what needs to be burned more of,

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or what needs to be ordered. You can see, actually,

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if you look here, you've got some very recent titles.

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Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part One. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,

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which is nominated for loads of awards as well. Big British movie.

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The Inbetweeners movie, which has been a huge hit.

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And then on the other shelves here, you've got everything else you can think of.

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You've got comedy stuff as well, you've got children's titles here.

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They're all pirated copies, none of these are here legitimately.

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I actually did a quick calculation based on the number of burners in this room here.

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There are eight of these towers here, operating.

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I think there's 12 trays that they can burn off on each of these towers. That's 96.

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If you guesstimate they're running these 12 hours a day,

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they're making thousands and thousands of these a week,

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so just this set-up alone here,

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the estimated profit from this would be about £100,000 a week.

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THIS is a £100,000 a week criminal profit.

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It has been a successful operation for Eddy, Nick and the whole team.

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The van got away, but 12 suspects were arrested at other addresses.

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Across the area, the entire operation

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has seen 50,000 DVDS seized,

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and equipment capable of generating profits of £300,000 per week.

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This is a crime scene, so this will be forensicated.

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We will be retrieving all the material from here.

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We will submit a number of items for laboratory testing

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so we can prove evidentially

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what DVDs came from what machine, and just where they were supplied to,

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cos this won't just be supplied to this local area.

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These could be going across London and across the country, as well.

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Toys have some of the strictest guidelines of any product.

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Like most young boys, Jack and Tom Crossland are crazy about them.

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In Christmas 2010, they asked their mum, Lorraine,

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for some new Ben 10 figures. Little did they know

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their Christmas presents that year were to prove potentially fatal.

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They'd specifically said they wanted a couple of Ben 10 figures, plus some of the baddies.

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Busy at work, Lorraine did what many of us do nowadays.

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She went online, and found a lady on an auction site selling everything she wanted.

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The feedback was positive from people,

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all of the pictures were positive, I got responses to my e-mails.

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So Lorraine went ahead and bought the toys.

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It was just under £200.

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So it wasn't just a couple of stocking fillers.

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To her delight, the toys arrived just two days later.

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But there was a problem.

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I opened the box just to check the toys out,

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and instantly, as soon as I saw the toys...

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It was the colour of the box, it was the toys inside. They didn't look right.

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So I ended up getting everything out the box, just literally so fast,

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having a look, and that was instantly where my heart sank

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and I thought, "No, I've been had."

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The toys were fakes.

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Cheap imitations of the authentic ones pictured on the website.

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Lorraine went back online to contact the seller.

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But she had already been taken off the site.

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So she decided to contact her local Trading Standards.

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Caroline North is head of the Unfair And Rogue Trading team at Leicestershire County Council.

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This is one of the items that Mrs Crossland bought.

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This is quite a flimsy... Quite flimsy, cheap cardboard packaging.

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It's starting to come away quite easily.

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She examined them and found clear signs that they were fake.

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On this one, they're describing the on/off button as a "NO OFF" button.

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Caroline decided to get the toys scientifically tested.

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There's a lot of legislation in this country in place -

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toy safety legislation, British standards,

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European standards - covering the safety of toys.

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We knew they were fake,

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but what we wanted to see was, were these also dangerous toys?

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Caroline sent the toys to a specialist lab in neighbouring Staffordshire.

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Simon Cull is one of the experts who tested them.

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Simon is looking for the presence of phthalates - substances banned in toys

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except in very small quantities, under strict EU rules.

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They can cause hormone deficiencies, particularly in young boys like Jack and Tom,

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as well as a whole host of other problems.

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They can cause skin irritations, they can cause respiratory problems, breathing difficulties.

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Some of the more nasty ones can actually impair fertility

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and potentially harm an unborn child, as well.

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First, Simon must test for PVC. This has to be present in the toys

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for any phthalates in there to be harmful.

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If there's any PVC there, which has got chlorides in, this will go nice and green.

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Now we've confirmed that, we'll go ahead and look for phthalates

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to see if they're in that plastic at all.

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Simon completed the tests, and what he found surprised him and his team.

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This particular phthalate is benzyl butyl phthalate,

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which is the primary phthalate that we've found in this particular sample.

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We tend not to find them. When we do, it's...

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I wouldn't say it's a rarity, but it shows up like a sore thumb, really.

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There are actually two or three different types of phthalates in this material,

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but this is the primary one that we are failing the sample on.

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This is going to be 50 to 60 times greater than the legal limit for this particular compound.

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That's a lot more than we'd anticipate in a typical sample.

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50 times greater than the legal limit! This is alarming.

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Simon and the team also found high levels of heavy metals in the toys -

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arsenic, cadmium and lead, way above the permitted levels.

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The results were passed back to Caroline

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at Leicestershire's Rogue Trading team.

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On this occasion, Mrs Crossland didn't give these toys to her children,

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because we sent them off for testing.

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Had she given those toys to her children to play with,

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then the children would have been firstly at risk from the phthalates.

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It could have affected their hormone levels. That could have had an effect on them, quite seriously.

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Also, there was the heavy metals in there.

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They wouldn't pose an immediate risk to their children's health.

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However, long term, a build-up of heavy metals would lead to very long-term health risks,

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and you are talking, there, things like potentially cancers.

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You sit just there, then.

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When Trading Standards told me what was in the toys,

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I was very, very shocked.

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I just couldn't believe that there are people out there

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that will do anything possible to deceive people just to get money.

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Because of the dodgy toys, the boys went without presents that Christmas.

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Last Christmas was sad, because we didn't get any presents.

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When I explained to them that the items that I'd brought

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weren't real, and they were dangerous,

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and I explained it all to them, they were still upset,

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but they were very good, and said, "Well, we don't want them if they're dangerous."

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There is no doubt Tom and Jack had a lucky escape.

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It can be very difficult to spot a fake painting.

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Experts look on the back as well as the front for clues.

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But sometimes, it takes an extraordinary coincidence to catch out the fakers.

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I sit on a rock and look out over the sea,

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and I think that I am aware of everything that's ever moved.

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Jack Pender spent his life painting the Cornish coastline.

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He never dreamed of people forging his work.

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But 10 years after his death, all that was about to change.

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Lot number 979, various rummers.

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In 2009, Penzance auctioneer David Lays

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received two Jack Pender paintings to be valued and sold.

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HAMMER TAPS

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The first I can remember quite clearly is coming into the office

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and being told with a degree of excitement

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that two nice Jack Pender paintings had been sent to us for sale.

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David had been a close friend of the artist's,

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and looked forward to examining the work of his old mate.

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But there was something strange about the pictures.

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I saw two Jack Pender paintings of a good size,

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good subject matter, they had all the elements that the buyers were wanting,

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but there was something that just niggled me a little bit,

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something about them that was a little odd.

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And with hindsight, it would have been the colouring.

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Jack's colours tend to be quite muted greys, blacks, whites.

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Not bright, harsh colours.

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And these paintings had some pretty angry colours in them.

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David went online and saw that paintings like this

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had been cropping up at auction houses around the country.

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I saw that curiously composed,

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curiously coloured paintings

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had been appearing in the provinces at auction in pairs.

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And, well, really, I twigged just straight away that these were fakes.

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David contacted Jack's son, Robin,

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who lives in the neighbouring town of Truro.

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This one's one of my favourites. It's a painting done in the very early '50s

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of my grandfather and my father's brother.

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All the typical elements in his work, the cottages, the village, the boats.

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Robin grew up with his dad's work and knows it inside out.

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We spent a lot of time in Dad's studio as children.

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And he'd be working on a big easel,

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we would be there painting on a little board, you know, next to Dad

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and we would just be emulating him, really.

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He painted from the soul, if you like,

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I mean, it was what he really wanted to do.

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Robin met with David Lays, who showed him the fake paintings.

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The first thing that struck me was that I hadn't seen them before.

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They are kind of going through the motions

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trying to re-create a Jack Pender.

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So they've got the basic ingredients. They've got the bits of the harbours,

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the bits of the boats, the texture of the sea, things like this,

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but they're done in a much more superficial way.

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When I first showed Robin the paintings, he was incensed, as was I.

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We could just see that the public was being duped,

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that this man was sullying Jack's name, harming his reputation.

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And that incensed me and it incensed Robin.

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The man who sold the paintings to David was Rizvan Rahman,

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a former art teacher from Leicester.

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When Robin and David contacted the police, the case was referred to Leicestershire Constabulary.

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These are actually the first two paintings that Mr Rahman

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attempted to sell through David Lay auctioneers.

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Jason Helm took on the investigation.

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As I contacted one gallery or auction house to see if they'd had any dealings with Mr Rahman,

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usually they had, and they tended to put me on to another,

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so one enquiry led to another.

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Jason set about retrieving all the alleged Pender paintings Rahman sold.

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Michael Villaneau is a retired stockbroker from London.

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He's a keen art collector and has a love of nautical pictures.

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In particular, he's a huge fan of Jack Pender.

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This was the first Jack Pender that I bought.

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I bought it in 1994 at an auction in Penzance.

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For him, Pender's work has a special quality.

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His colours, the composition, they are distinctive paintings.

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I mean, I think you see a Jack Pender and you know it's immediately a Jack Pender.

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Michael's ability to spot a Pender was about to be tested.

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Keen to expand his collection, Michael had noticed one of Jack's paintings for sale

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in an auction house in Surrey, and decided to bid for it online.

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I put a lowish bid in, I thought,

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and was a little bit surprised when I actually bought the picture.

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I ended up paying, I think, £1,100 plus about £250 commission, so £1,350.

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When Michael and his wife went to collect the picture, they were rather disappointed.

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As soon as we saw it, my wife and I,

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we both decided that there was something not quite right about it.

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The colours didn't seem to be quite right.

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They weren't very appealing, to be honest.

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It was Jack Pender-ish, but it didn't really have any charm.

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We both looked at the painting and thought,

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this is not a particularly nice Jack Pender.

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Michael was right to be suspicious about the work.

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It was another painting sold by Rizvan Rahman.

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Not long after he bought it, Michael received a call from Leicestershire Police.

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Jason Helm phoned up and basically said

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that he had reason to believe that I had bought a picture that was a forgery.

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I must admit I was surprised, but in a way relieved,

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because it was a picture we didn't particularly like,

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and we had spent quite a bit of money on it.

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Jason came and collected the picture.

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Michael managed to get a full refund from the auction house.

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In total, Jason tracked down 11 Jack Pender paintings sold by Rizvan Rahman.

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To confirm they were fakes, he travelled to Cornwall

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to show them to Robin Pender, the artist's son.

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When Jason and his colleague came down to interview me

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and to go through the works,

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that really was quite an extraordinary morning

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because I came back from work

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and they had a estate car absolutely full of paintings.

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We brought them into the house and it was quite a strange feeling

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bringing these alien works into the house,

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to see, one after the other, blatant forgery of my father's paintings.

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The colours were subtly different

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from the colours that Dad would naturally use. I knew Dad's palette.

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There would be some, sort of,

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more garish greens, yellows, purples in them.

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Seeing all the forgeries together in one place

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invoked a strong reaction in Robin.

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You go from surprise, curiosity into, you know, anger, determination.

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I felt very sorry for the people who'd been taken in by these works.

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They really wanted a genuine painting by my father,

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and what they got were outright fakes.

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Robin can only imagine his dad's reaction,

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but it wouldn't have been pleasant.

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If he'd met Rizvan Rahman he would have probably punched him on the nose.

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I mean, he was that sort. He was fairly determined,

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and I don't think he would've been amused.

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But the case didn't stop there. Jason discovered it wasn't just Pender's paintings

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that Rizvan Rahman was selling.

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Rahman had been selling fake works by a whole host of artists.

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Most were from the St Ives group from Cornwall.

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This one is a painting by the artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

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that Mr Rahman sold.

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I think that sold for 13 or £14,000.

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This painting sold to a gallery in London for £20,000.

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It was time for Jason to pay the former art teacher a visit.

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When I arrested Mr Rahman and we searched his premises,

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I recovered quite a few paintings that I believed to be fake.

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I recovered one or two invoices

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which also proved that they were fake.

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We recovered a couple of books - The Art Forger's Handbook and The Confessions Of An Art Forger.

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On October 12th 2011, Rizvan Rahman was sentenced to 18 months in jail

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for fraudulently selling paintings by multiple artists.

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He had made £170,000 from sales of fakes.

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However, he HAD already paid back some of the money.

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At the end of an investigation, after you've put so much hard work and time into it,

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it's always good to get a positive result,

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and to see the person you've investigated convicted.

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I was very happy with that, and that justice was done.

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Selling at 20.

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But had Rahman not tried to sell his fake paintings to the artist's friend, David Lays,

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he may never have been caught.

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Yes, he was unlucky, I think.

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He wasn't to know that I had the odd scotch with Jack Pender,

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and that I knew his son well and was very familiar with Jack's paintings.

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If he hadn't sent those two pictures to me,

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then he could still, this day, be churning out fake paintings

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and sending them around the world for sale.

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For Robin Pender, Jack's son, justice had been done.

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Back in Mousehall, the village where his father spent his life

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painting the local boats and harbour,

0:20:280:20:30

Robin reflects on what has happened.

0:20:300:20:32

The cottage that we lived in is over there, right in the middle of the village.

0:20:320:20:37

This boat in the foreground is perfect,

0:20:370:20:39

it's a classic local fishing boat.

0:20:390:20:42

It's on the edge of the water.

0:20:420:20:43

That's something that very much interested him.

0:20:430:20:46

Then you've got the sweep of the cottages clustered around the harbour.

0:20:460:20:51

The shock and the anger that there were blatant forgeries or fakes

0:20:510:20:58

which were just a shallow imitation that had no link

0:20:580:21:04

with the reality and the vision that my father had,

0:21:040:21:08

you know, it's very satisfying to think that all that has gone.

0:21:080:21:13

The reputation of Jack Pender, an artist dedicated to recording life in coastal Cornwall,

0:21:130:21:19

had been preserved.

0:21:190:21:21

Welcome to Dover docks.

0:21:320:21:35

As well as cruise ships and passengers,

0:21:350:21:37

£80 billion worth of trade passes through the port every year,

0:21:370:21:41

and amongst that, there's some dodgy gear.

0:21:410:21:43

Kent Trading Standards area manager Mark Rolf

0:21:450:21:47

has come to investigate a giant shipment of fake toys found in the back of a lorry.

0:21:470:21:53

What we've got here is 9,500 dangerous items.

0:21:530:21:57

Toys, protective gear, playthings, gadgets.

0:21:570:22:01

It's one of the biggest seizures of fake toys Kent Trading Standards have ever seen,

0:22:010:22:06

estimated to be worth quarter of a million pounds.

0:22:060:22:10

It contains some potentially lethal toys.

0:22:100:22:12

Look away now, kids - you don't want these for Christmas.

0:22:120:22:16

The thing that's most commonly faked

0:22:160:22:18

is what's called the European Conformity Mark,

0:22:180:22:21

which is the symbol we tell people to look out for to make sure the goods they're buying are safe.

0:22:210:22:25

A good example is our friend, the doll, here. Lovely looking toy.

0:22:250:22:30

Got a small label on the back, with the European conformity mark,

0:22:300:22:36

which is the CE marked on there.

0:22:360:22:40

The way this doll is put together, the whole structure of the doll

0:22:400:22:44

is based around this, which is just waiting to poke a child's eye out,

0:22:440:22:47

and certainly shouldn't be in a toy that you would give to a child.

0:22:470:22:52

That looks like an injury waiting to happen.

0:22:520:22:55

These toys are, again, CE marked.

0:22:550:22:57

These are what are called Puffer Balls.

0:22:570:23:00

Which are very attractive, obviously, for young children.

0:23:000:23:03

They light up and bounce, and they're very soft.

0:23:030:23:05

The problem with these is that they've got no strength in them,

0:23:050:23:09

and the bit that lights up inside is just the right size to go into a child's throat and choke them.

0:23:090:23:14

And actually, if a child were to have this in their mouth,

0:23:140:23:18

it takes very little to separate the ball from the toy.

0:23:180:23:23

And that, in the back of a child's throat, would kill them.

0:23:230:23:26

As Mark examines the huge haul, he finds yet more hazardous toys.

0:23:260:23:30

All have the CE mark on them, but all are dangerous for children.

0:23:320:23:36

Stuffing in soft toys should be of a specific type so that children can't choke on it.

0:23:360:23:41

This is stuffed with used rags of, well, all sorts of things, really.

0:23:410:23:48

Again, these are not the kind of stuffing you would want a child to have access to.

0:23:480:23:52

The CE mark is across Europe, and it means that goods that bear it

0:23:520:23:57

meet all of the European standards of safety.

0:23:570:24:00

The fact that it's on these goods, and these goods are unsafe,

0:24:000:24:03

is a really serious problem as far as we're concerned.

0:24:030:24:06

The toy mountain also contains counterfeit versions of genuine brands.

0:24:060:24:10

The Ben 10 fakers are still at it.

0:24:100:24:13

Sports protection helmet, with pictures of people cycling or skateboarding or skating.

0:24:130:24:18

And, again, a brand that is the Ben 10 brand,

0:24:180:24:23

nothing to do with the genuine Ben 10 people.

0:24:230:24:26

If I take it out of the packet, you can see,

0:24:270:24:33

again, inside it's got the CE mark, so this should be a cycle helmet that you'd feel confident

0:24:330:24:37

with your child going out cycling or skateboarding in.

0:24:370:24:40

But it's got no structure to it.

0:24:400:24:42

It's just a piece of weak plastic, basically.

0:24:420:24:47

Certainly wouldn't want my child's head in that if they came off their bike.

0:24:470:24:51

A selection of the toys have been sent here,

0:24:540:24:57

to Kent Scientific Services, for examination.

0:24:570:25:00

It's Paulette Smith's job to determine just how dangerous they could be.

0:25:000:25:04

To do this, Paulette will need her special toy testing kit.

0:25:040:25:08

First up, it's this little lady.

0:25:100:25:13

If we use these accessibility probes which represent child's fingers,

0:25:130:25:17

a child could very easily reach through into the back of the doll and feel the wire.

0:25:170:25:23

The end of the wire is actually quite accessible there,

0:25:230:25:25

you can just see it starting to poke through the actual fabric of the doll,

0:25:250:25:29

and in fact it's very easily just pushed through the doll there.

0:25:290:25:34

If we use the sharp point tester, here,

0:25:340:25:36

on the end of this wire, you can see

0:25:360:25:39

as the red light lights,

0:25:390:25:40

that indicates that the end of the wire is a sharp point.

0:25:400:25:43

I definitely think that this would present a risk to any child who was playing with this.

0:25:430:25:47

Next up, it's the turn of some dodgy-looking rattles.

0:25:490:25:53

Interestingly enough, the box is actually marked

0:25:530:25:57

that the item is not suitable for children under three years.

0:25:570:26:00

I think, with a picture of a baby on it, it obviously IS intended for children under three years.

0:26:000:26:05

If we take this one,

0:26:050:26:07

a little twist like that, we can see it quite easily snaps off,

0:26:070:26:11

and the whole thing then fits within this small parts cylinder.

0:26:110:26:15

Anything which would fit entirely within here is deemed to present a choking hazard to a child.

0:26:150:26:21

The child could theoretically put it in its mouth and swallow it,

0:26:210:26:24

and then could choke on the item.

0:26:240:26:26

Finally, it's the turn of this kitty cat.

0:26:280:26:31

He looks pretty friendly, but Paulette thinks not.

0:26:310:26:34

She's concerned that the stuffing inside the toy,

0:26:340:26:37

a mixture of rags and old clothes,

0:26:370:26:40

could cause it to burn too quickly, which, if accidentally set alight, could help cause a house fire.

0:26:400:26:45

A normal toy which has been properly stuffed should burn slowly.

0:26:450:26:51

Let's see what happens to this guy. Stand back, ladies and gents.

0:26:510:26:54

The fire spreads fast.

0:26:570:26:59

There is no doubt about it, it's a dangerous animal.

0:26:590:27:02

You can see once a flame catches hold, it burns quite easily and quite readily.

0:27:020:27:08

It'd be quite nasty if it caught light in the home.

0:27:080:27:11

Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright. Not for much longer.

0:27:110:27:16

The team are concerned that potentially toxic fumes could fill the car park.

0:27:160:27:20

It's so dangerous, they have to put it out twice.

0:27:250:27:29

It was a very rapid spread of flame on the tiger as it burned there.

0:27:310:27:35

A toy that was stuffed with more suitable stuffing material

0:27:350:27:40

would probably tend to melt initially,

0:27:400:27:42

rather than catch alight like that,

0:27:420:27:44

and certainly any spread of flame would be a lot slower,

0:27:440:27:47

which would give a child more time to react and to get away from any danger that might arise.

0:27:470:27:52

This is one tiger that's not worth saving.

0:27:520:27:56

I think the whole shipment is certainly not fit to be given to children.

0:27:560:28:00

Overall, Mark is appalled by what he's found.

0:28:020:28:06

The worst thing that could happen as a result of a child playing with these

0:28:060:28:09

is that they would be seriously injured or could die.

0:28:090:28:11

Some of the choking hazards could be that serious.

0:28:110:28:14

The vast majority of this whole pile will be destroyed,

0:28:140:28:16

cos there's nothing that can be done to make them reusable, they're just rubbish.

0:28:160:28:20

That's all from Fake Britain today. Bye for now.

0:28:280:28:31

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:560:28:59

In this episode, Fake Britain reveals the fake DVD factory making 100,000 pounds a week, and follows the enforcement agencies who will stop at nothing to halt the illegal activity. Could your child be playing with dangerous fake toys? The team put cheap Chinese counterfeits, from cuddly animals to baby dolls, to the test. Plus the art forger who made tens of thousands of pounds faking the paintings of famous fine artists.


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