One of the weirdest, most niche crimes you’ve ever heard of took place in Lancashire, U.K. in November of 2016 — a couple were discovered heading a counterfeit car mat ring. Earlier this month, a hearing determined the total amount they profited from the illicit business, and established what they were being ordered to return.
When you think of vehicle crimes, you usually immediately picture carjacking or broken windows (or maybe images of Vin Diesel and his motley crew of luxury car thieves pops into your head) — the last thing to enter your mind is the concept of counterfeit branded car floor mats. Maybe that’s why Stuart Johnson and his wife, Nicola Shepherd, thought they could get away with it.
Car Mat World Ltd, where Shepherd worked as director, had been manufacturing replica car mats and selling them to customers on Amazon and eBay. Apparently, Shepherd would supply fabric badges bearing unauthorized trademarks to Johnson, who would then slap them on unbranded car mats and market them online. With over 70% of people eating and drinking in their car causing their car mat to become disgustingly dirty, the couple apparently saw a profit waiting to be made — and they weren’t wrong. A judge in Preston Town Court ruled that the Shepherd and Johnson had made away with around £60,000 (nearly $80,000) of ill gotten gains. Unfortunately, they only had about £10,500 worth of seizable assets, which they are being ordered to return by October or they will face time in prison.
Another member of the ring, Styleline8 Ltd, operated a drop-shipping agreement with Car Mat World Ltd (essentially meaning Styleline8 Ltd did not keep the mats in-house, instead shipping them directly from Car Mat World Ltd to the end customers) and admitted the trademark offence in court. In a surprising (and wholesome) turn of events, the company will be forced to pay its ill gotten goods into charity, rather than the court.
Although no one was harmed by the couple’s nefarious ring, they were still breaking copyright laws. It definitely makes you wonder what other niche crimes exist out there.