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Council cracks down on dodgy eBay skin lightening products

SOUTHWARK COUNCIL'S investigation into the online sale of illegal skin lighteners yesterday (Oct 17) saw Munir Ahmad sentenced at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court, for repeatedly selling dangerous cosmetic products on eBay.

Two of the products Southwark’s trading standards team bought, ‘Arena Gold Fairness Cream for Men’ and ‘Golden Pearl Beauty Cream’, were found to contain the highly toxic metal, Mercury. Ahmad had been repeatedly selling these dangerously toxic, illegal cosmetics, for personal gain.

eBay had already banned listings of one of these harmful products, as it was among over 30 skin lightening cosmetics that trading standards officers had warned them about as part of this project. However, the council’s test purchases revealed that Ahmad, was continuing to sell this harmful product, under another name.

In addition to this, all of the council’s test purchases failed with regard to safety labelling, which, especially given recent events, is taken extremely seriously.

The bench rated the risk to health and safety as high and passed down a significant 40 week custodial sentence, suspended for 24 months. In addition to this, Ahmad will have to complete 100 hours unpaid work and pay full costs of £7185.

The National Trading Standards funded project brought Munir Ahmad (50), of Evington Road, Leicester, to court, where magistrates heard how he was trading on eBay as ‘Evington2000’. Southwark Council explained how its covert test purchases revealed that Ahmad was selling illegal skin lightening creams in July and December 2017 and again in March 2018.

In June 2018, Southwark and Leicester councils seized more than 1,500 eyeliners, lipsticks and other cosmetics from Ahmad’s Evington Road shop.

They found that although he had stopped dealing in skin lighteners, he was continuing to illegally sell cosmetics which had been imported from Pakistan.

These products were not compliant with safety regulations here in the UK. Other products that he had listed and sold were also known to UK authorities as being dangerous due to their Mercury content.

Southwark Council additionally obtained Ahmad’s PayPal records; these revealed that he was receiving payments for illegal cosmetic products that amounted to £1,900 per month, between June 2016 and January 2018.

Councillor Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for finance, performance and Brexit said: “I am pleased that Mr Ahmad has received this severe sentence for his continuous sale of damaging skin lightening creams and his negligence regarding the health of his customers.

"Our trading standards team actively combat the sale of skin lighteners locally and this has attracted national recognition and the funding to help us take our investigations online.

“Southwark Council won’t hesitate to prosecute any traders who put profit before the safety of their customers.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, added: “Illegal skin lightening creams can have an extremely damaging effect on people’s health. The products Mr Ahmad was selling did not meet UK safety standards and put consumers at risk. Many people using the products he sold will have been shocked to find they contained mercury.

“I am pleased that the work of the Southwark Trading Standards project funded by National Trading Standards has helped protect consumers and bring Mr Ahmad to justice.”

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