Nigerian couple fined in sting operation for selling toxic skin whitening products from home in Southsea

A husband and wife have pleaded guilty to concocting, at home, and selling online, toxic whitening products which included a potential killer ingredient in their products to make more than £100,000.

Jonathan Ikpere, 32, and his wife Holiness Ikpere, 29, were caught in a sting operation at their home by Southwark council officers.

The pair were sentenced to costs and fines of £17,000, a community order of 60 hours each, a suspended custodial sentence of six months for him and four months for her, both in place for one year, and a community order of 60 hours each.

Southwark trading standards inspectors spotted online sales of the toxic treatments even though the couple had told customers they were not using them.

The couple, both from Southsea, appeared at Inner London Crown Court on Monday after pleading guilty at earlier hearings.

Southwark’s prosecution was brought following a raid at the Ikpere’s previous home, in Towpath Mead, Southsea in March 2018.

Trading Standards officers from Southwark, assisted by local police and Portsmouth City council, seized nearly 3,000 toxic skin whitening products that the couple had illegally imported from Nigeria.

Officers observed a mixing bowl in the family kitchen, where the couple’s own brand of skin lighteners were being concocted.

They were using raw hydroquinone, a toxic substance that can remove the top layer of skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer and causing fatal liver and kidney damage.

Products were being marketed under the couple’s own brand name: Favourisms Queenette.

The label on one of their lotions features a picture of Mrs Ikpere’s face on the bottles.

Councilor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for performance, said: “Sellers of dangerous and illegal skin lightening products should know that they have nowhere to hide.

“Our trading standards team is active on our high streets, but has now stepped up and employed its expertise to help stamp out the sale of these products online.

“We are proud to have led this national initiative that has seen the perpetrators brought to justice and thousands of pounds worth of dangerous products removed from circulation.”

 


 

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