TENS of thousands of pounds worth of fake trainers and sportswear has been flooding on to the streets of East Lancashire.
Trading standards officials said they had taken major steps towards tackling the racket after a raid on a Blackburn store and a court case involving a market trader.
Officials seized an entire shop full of suspected designer sportswear, valued at nearly £25,000, in Bank Top.
The raid, following a tip-off, is believed to be the largest ever carried out by Blackburn with Darwen trading standards officers.
The seizure included nearly 300 designer items , including Armani and Adidas Y3 trainers as well as Fred Perry and Lacoste clothing.
A Blackburn man was arrested on suspicion of selling counterfeit goods and was bailed pending further inquiries.
Yesterday, in an unconnected court case, market trader Iqbal Hussain Patel, 45, of Charlotte Street, Blackburn, was given a six-month suspended jail term for selling fake Nike and Lacoste trainers valued at £30,000 at a car boot sale in Clitheroe.
Patel was caught on three occasions selling fake trainers at Clitheroe Auction Mart and consumer watchdogs said he was not alone.
Trading standards watchdogs said the prosecution showed that rogue traders were not "lovable rogues", like TV's Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses, but persistent offenders.
East Lancashire has a reputation as one of the counterfeit capitals of the north west.
The trainers - when genuine - can fetch £170 per per pair on the high street.
Chris Allen, head of Blackburn with Darwen council's trading standards department, said: "Normally we'd expect to find a few counterfeit items mixed in with genuine stock but all the stock in the Bank Top shop was counterfeit.
"We returned with the police and seized 287 items. It is the first time we have seized a shop's entire stock."
One neighbouring shop worker who witnessed the raid said: "There was a woman laying on top of bags of clothing, crying, saying 'don't take it away'".
The goods seized are thought to have been imported from abroad.
Last night police carried out a second raid on the shop after further reports that fake goods were being sold from the site.
Hyndburn magistrates were told that in the case of Iqbal Patel, the items which were mostly branded with Nike and Lacoste logos.
More than 280 pairs of trainers were seized from him in December 2006, he was caught out again the following June and in July 139 pairs of Nike trainers were seized.
Nick McNamara, prosecuting, said Patel sold Nike Air Max Plus trainers - which should cost £110 - for just £30. The value of the Nike trainers seized in the three raids was over £22,000. Lacoste trainers seized were worth around £10,000.
Patel pleaded guilty to three charges under the Trademark Act. He was also given a 12-month supervision order and 100 hours of community service with £453 costs.
Mr McNamara said: "When interviewed Patel told officers that he had bought the stock from two men from Birmingham for £2,500.
"He said that it had occurred to him that the shoes might be counterfeit or even stolen but he said that it was none of his business why they were so cheap."
Jim Potts, head of Lancashire County Council trading standards, said: "There used to be a lot of romanticism about counterfeiters - that they were Del Boy characters and lovable rogues. "In Lancashire we are natural crossroads for counterfeiters, from the north and south, and we have had some of the biggest hauls in the country locally."