The Professional Golfers’ Association has warned that a massive scam involving the selling of fake golf clubs on the internet is a stark reminder of the perils of buying equipment online.
Consequently the Association has advised customers to buy equipment from one of its 7,500-strong band of PGA professionals in a bid to avoid unwittingly purchasing counterfeit gear.
The advice follows the jailing last week of a gang ringleader for a multi-million pound fraud on eBay. Gary Bellchambers, 46, of Rainham, Essex, was sentenced for his part in the conspiracy that saw counterfeit clubs of leading brands sold over the internet.
Presiding Judge Jacqueline Beech described counterfeiting as “a serious problem which must be deterred.”
believes one of the best ways to combat the problem of counterfeit clubs is to buy straight from local PGA pros at golf clubs or driving ranges.
“This case illustrates the potential dangers of buying golf equipment online,” he said. “and not just from the counterfeiting angle. Even if the equipment bought online is genuine it may not be suitable for the person who is going to use it. Golfers need to use clubs best suited to their game, which is where PGA professionals come in. They have the skills and expertise to ensure a golfer buys equipment that is right for them.
“They are also as competitive in terms of pricing as the internet and high street. So, while the price of some equipment for sale on the internet may appear to be a bargain, buying it could be a costly mistake – either because it’s counterfeit or unsuitable. Our advice for anyone thinking of buying new clubs is to go to their local PGA professional.”
Jones added that there was one safe way of buying clubs via the internet – from PGA partner, Golfbidder. However, he stressed the need for a PGA professional to be involved in any purchase.
“Golfbidder is a reputable company that does an excellent job for PGA professionals and golfers,” he added. “But anyone buying clubs from Golfbidder should take them to their local PGA professional to have them adjusted to suit their game.”
Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London heard that Bellchambers and his accomplices, sold tens of thousands of items of golf equipment over a five year period between June 2003 and March 2008 bringing more than £2m into their accounts.
Bill Adams, Havering Council’s principal trading standards officer, said: “Each customer was ripped off by up to £100 per club.”
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