Crooks who became ‘obsessed’ with selling thousands of pounds of stolen cosmetics on eBay have been jailed.
Dariusz Suski, 32, and Joanna Lazarska, 33, used the auction website to make more than £350,000 in just over a year from luxury perfume and make-up they got from illicit suppliers.
When police searched their home in St Ronan’s Road, Southsea, officers found 11,000 items of cosmetics including Clarins and Estée Lauder, leading prosecutors to call it an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’. They were arrested in April 2013.
The pair denied conspiring to handle stolen goods and converting criminal property but were found guilty after a nine-week trial.
At Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Sarah Munro QC sentenced Suski to four years in jail and Lazarska to two years.
Judge Munro said: ‘You were both obsessed with this business and operated, at times, 24 hours a day.
‘The sum of money flowing through your eBay, Paypal and bank accounts was huge. Your offending was both sophisticated and carefully planned and executed.’
Judge Munro said they ran the operation together but Lazarska’s sentence was reduced as she recently gave birth.
She added: ‘If anything Miss Lazarska, you were the more accomplished businesswoman.’
The couple bought luxury items from people they met through eBay and sold them on as discounted factory goods.
Outside court, police said the pair made £350,000 from the stolen items.
Judge Munro added: ‘Some of your suppliers had access in such large quantities that they must have been stolen.
‘You were clearly both extremely knowledgeable of the nature of the products.
‘Your knowledge was extraordinary and in some ways more than the security manager of Estee Lauder.’
Radoslaw Ozgowicz worked for Estee Lauder and supplied products to Suski and Lazarska.
He hid items while taking breaks from shifts at the luxury brand’s factory.
Prosecuting, Stephen Parish said: ‘The maximum he could take was 40 to 50 items a day. He was on drugs a lot of the time.’
Ozgowicz, 36, of Copnor Road, Portsmouth, said only 70 per cent of the items he sold – most of which went to Suski and Lazarska – were stolen.
The court heard he claimed the rest were made up of items gifted to him from the firm. This was refuted by prosecutors.
Ozgowicz said he received around £62,000 for the cosmetics. He will be sentenced next month.
Ozgowicz had earlier pleaded guilty to a count of theft and conspiring to transfer and convert criminal property.
Another supplier, Richard Powell, bought items from a man in a pub and would get products to order for Suski and Lazarska.
His defence barrister, Tim Sparkes, told the court Powell said to police he was 99.9-per-cent sure the goods were stolen and that others must have been as certain as it was obvious.
Powell, 45, of Airedale Road, Bradford, pleaded guilty to conspiring to transfer and convert criminal property.
Judge Munro handed him an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a six-month supervision requirement and a curfew.
Hungarian Ramszesz Harangoza, 35, of Ashville Road, Leytonstone, London, was found guilty of entering into or becoming concerned with a money laundering arrangement and converting criminal property.
He was involved in four transactions worth £5,500.
He was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order.
Leanne Cave, 32, of Rothley Avenue, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to converting criminal property. Cave bought £200 boxes from a man at a car boot sale and sold on the contents. She received £13,760 from Suski and Lazarska.
Cave was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
A confiscation hearing will be held later this year.
Police warning over buying goods online
POLICE welcomed the jailing of Dariusz Suski and Joanna Lazarska.
The pair sold stolen luxury cosmetics online and had a network of suppliers across England.
Acting Detective Sergeant Anton Gaita said: ‘The sentencing is the result of a prolonged and thorough investigation by the constabulary’s economic crime unit.
‘From their home in Portsmouth, the couple stored and sold-on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of stolen beauty products.
‘In interview they denied knowing the products were stolen, but our investigation proved otherwise.
‘We maintain the items were stolen to order.’
‘The pair were motivated by financial gain and made about £350,000 in online sales marketing the products as discounted factory goods only slightly below the normal retail price.
‘All the beauty products had been taken out of the supply chain, so there’s no way of knowing whether they’d been stored in the correct conditions or whether they’d been exposed to contamination.’
And he warned that consumers not using an approved retailer or buying from a manufacturer should always think twice before opting to buy discounted goods online.
He said: ‘Handling and selling stolen goods is not a victimless crime and sometimes such criminal activity can have links to other areas of organised crime such as drugs and money laundering.
‘We’re committed to making life difficult for such groups.’
A spokeswoman for luxury cosmetic brand Estée Lauder added: ‘The Estée Lauder companies takes the protection of both our image and products very seriously.
‘We work closely with both the police and judicial system to ensure the security of our supply chain and to protect the integrity of our products for our consumers.’