A Nigerian couple, Jonathan and Holiness Ikpere were arrested but have avoided jail term after admitting to selling illegal skin-whitening products online, Sky News reports.
The couple are thought to have earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from selling banned bleaching concoctions from their home in Towpath Mead, Southsea.
They were said to have imported large quantities of cosmetics from Nigeria, before selling them and were caught in UK’s first national investigation into the online sale of dangerous skin-whitening products.
According to Sky News, Jonathan Ikpere, a Ph.D student at Portsmouth University, set up various PayPal accounts to collect orders for eBay purchases, which had a turnover of more than £100,000.
Southwark Trading Standards, who led the investigation, seized nearly 3,000 illegal and dangerous skin lightening products from their home. Customers who bought the products risked permanent skin and blood vessel damage and even infection.
Paul Gander, team leader of Southwark Trading Standards, said: “The Ikperes imported a large volume of cosmetics from Nigeria and made a small volume themselves on their premises. A lot of this stuff comes into this country from West Africa, Pakistan and even China.
When officers raided their home they discovered a mixing bowl in the kitchen, where the couple’s own brand of skin lighteners were being created. Holiness Ikpere even marketed the products with her own face on the labels.
After pleading guilty to manufacturing toxic bleaching cosmetics, the couple were fined £17,000, and were given 60-hour community service orders each.
Both received suspended sentences – six months for Jonathan and four months for Holiness – for a year.
Photo Credit: Sky News