A CONWOMAN who sold fake diet pills over the internet has been hit with a huge fine after people she duped in St Helens shopped her to the authorities.
In a landmark ruling, Nicole Larquey, 46, trading as Bodyscoop Ltd, was fined £24,000 by St Helens Magistrates. It was the UK’s first prosecution to involve misleading nutrition and health claims.
Although Larquey hails from Coulsden in Surrey, trading standards officers from St Helens Council brought the prosecution when the defendant was rumbled by a series of complaints from local customers.
The court heard how consumers had bought a pack of 30 “diet pills” from the Bodyscoop website for £29.99.
But suspicions were aroused when some of the customers started suffering from stomach pains.
The local trading standards team then had the tablets tested, with the pills found to contain mainly cellulose powder – a compound used to produce paper - and nothing that would aid weight loss.
Larquey, of Outwood Lane, admitted 24 consumer protection offences and, as well as the £24,000 fine, was ordered to pay £1,374 in court costs.
Councillor Alison Bacon, cabinet member for environmental protection, said: “This hefty fine shows just how serious the offence was. It’s vital that consumers can rely on products being both safe and honestly marketed.
“People trying to lose weight can be particularly vulnerable and willing to believe all sorts of claims. It’s fortunate that in this case the capsules caused nothing more serious than mild stomach upsets.”
The prosecution was the first to be brought under the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007.
Anyone who suspects they have been misled with regards to products or services they have bought can contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.