More than £500,000 worth of goods have been uncovered from the American Candy stores along Oxford Street in the last six months (Photo: d3sign via Getty Images)
American candy stores up and down one of Europe’s busiest shopping roads have been caught with huge amounts of counterfeit of illegal goods over the last six months.
There are reportedly 30 stores along the street which are being investigated for “allegedly failing to pay £7.9 million in business rates”.
And according to Westminster City Council, around £474,000 worth of counterfeit goods have been seized in the last half a year alone, with an additional £100,000 uncovered this week.
Leader of Westminster City Council, Adam Hug, posted an alarming Twitter thread explaining the sheer quantity uncovered in London’s Oxford Street by trading standards officers.
Approximately 2,246 counterfeit Wonka Bars, 2,838 disposable vapes, 223 toys with no safety labels, 1,393 counterfeit phone covers and “much more” was discovered just this week, the Labour councillor said.
An estimated £22,000 worth of Wonka Bars were seized from one shop alone on Monday.
The seized vapes, (which were both counterfeit and had excessive nicotine levels) also came with tank sizes larger than the permitted amount by the government’s regulatory agency.
Hug tweeted that more than £100,000 worth of counterfeit or illegal goods were seized in total only this week.
He called for landlords to take responsibility about who they let to and for “great transparency in company ownership”.
He continued: “The government also needs to properly resource Companies House, HMRC and other agencies to take action to deliver.”
Over £100k worth of counterfeit or illegal goods on my table seized yesterday from American Candy Shops on Oxford Street by our hard working @CityWestminster trading standards officers. As I was telling @VanessaOnAir we need landlords to take responsibility about who they let to pic.twitter.com/BahCAYegby
— Adam Hug (@AdamHug) June 15, 2022
In an interview with BBC Radio London presenter Venessa Feltz, Hug explained how experts identify a counterfeit chocolate bar.
He said: “Our trading standards officers are very clear that it is counterfeit goods.”
He explained that bars which are very low in chocolate, or which could potentially be dangerous for not explaining allergens on its packaging, were often repackaged as these chocolate Wonka bars.
Hug also explained that this problem has more widespread consequences for the UK.
“The public is being ripped off, the council and taxpayer is being ripped off because we’re almost £8 million [down due to] business rates evasion.
“These companies are popping up and then disappearing within a year to avoid having to pay business rates. So it’s a real problem.
“The net effect is that it undermines Oxford Street.”
Hug also admitted it was not clear who owned these shops, but the council was working with central government to try to find out and get to the bottom of the “whack-a-mol game” as soon as possible.
The council has previously said it wrote to 28 freeholds, urging them to “consider the impact on US sweet shops on Oxford Street”.
— Paul Fisher (@PaulEFishr) June 15, 2022
Not everyone on Twitter was willing to let the opportunity for a joke pass though.
One person joked that the council was trying to find a “golden ticket”, in reference to Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, while others just tried to secure some food.
However, people should not eat these counterfeit goods, as the Food Standards Agency warned: “If you have bought these knock-off bars, do not eat them.”
hey can you send me some hot cheetos please
— HK (@HKesvani) June 15, 2022
Do you get to eat them though?
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) June 15, 2022
Admit it Adam — You’re just using your power to try to find a Golden Ticket!
— Robert Sharp रोबर्ट शार्प (@robertsharp59) June 15, 2022
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 15, 2022
The Oompa Loompas will make them pay for this… https://t.co/9qqfLHXxuX
— Rob Keyes (@rob_keyes) June 15, 2022
I feel like selling counterfeit wonka bars is a plot point straight from the book. https://t.co/kfhHj9OHD6
— Ben M-J (@V_Ben) June 15, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.