Poppy Appeal conman made thousands from false badges

Genuine Poppy Appeal pin on the left, Meech's fake pin on the right
Genuine Poppy Appeal pin on the left, Meech's fake pin on the right
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CROOKED Jay Meech made thousands of pounds selling fake Poppy Appeal and Help for Heroes pins, a court heard.

Meech, 28, also sold fake football pin badges on a website he ran for six years.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard £95,000 went through a Paypal account he used for the illicit firm and about £22,000 was linked to the pins.

Richard Dickson, president of Gosport and Alverstoke Royal British Legion, said: ‘Cheats like this need to be brought to justice and there’s no more despicable a crime than targeting charities.’

The pins were seized in October last year before Remembrance Sunday.

Jo Brookes, from Help for Heroes, added: ‘He deceived the public into thinking that by purchasing one, they were helping servicemen.’

Jonathan Underhill, prosecuting, said trading standards officers searched Meech’s home and found pins he had had made in a Chinese factory.

Meech would pay little for the pins but paid $50 to the factory to set up a mould.

Mr Underhill said the Premier League had suspicions the football pins Meech was selling were fake.

He said: ‘As a result of that information, in April 2013 Hampshire Trading Standards conducted their own test purchases from the website.’

Officers ordered Southampton and Chelsea pin badges and found they were fake.

Meech had also sent them a copy of his business card.

That led officers to his home in Rothesay Road, Gosport, where they found 5,849 Poppy Appeal and 706 Help for Heroes badges.

Mr Underhill told the court around £22,000 of the cash that went through his account was related to the sale of the badges, and around two-thirds of this went to Meech.

About £3,000 of transactions were for charity pins.

Judge Roger Hetherington gave Meech an eight-month suspended sentence and told him to pay £1,650 in costs.

He said: ‘You had started off, I accept, honestly trading legitimate football pin badges because of your enthusiasm for the sport.

‘At some point it seems that greed got the better of you.’

He added the charities had lost out but added Meech had made a donation to each for £600 ahead of the hearing.

Nick Tucker, defending, said Meech did not realise the seriousness of the offence, is the main carer of his daughter and had no convictions.

He earlier admitted 10 counts of unauthorised use of a trademark.