In the UK, a couple avoided jail after admitting to selling illegal skin whitening products online. Jonathan and Holiness Ikpere imported large quantities of cosmetics from West Africa. Both received suspended sentences (community service) of six and four months, respectively.

Jonathan and Holiness Ikpere are thought to have earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from selling banned bleaching concoctions from their home in Towpath Mead, Southsea.

They imported large quantities of cosmetics from countries in West Africa before selling them on and were caught in the UK’s first national investigation into the online sale of dangerous skin-whitening products.

The couple outside court.

Jonathan Ikpere, a PhD student studying 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.

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.

Those who bought the products risked permanent skin and blood vessel damage and even infection.

The couple pleaded guilty to manufacturing toxic bleaching cosmetics and were fined £17,000, as well as given 60-hour community service orders each.

Both received suspended sentences, six months for Jonathan and four months for Holiness, suspended for a year.

Extracts from a Sky News article (original). Published 7 October 2019.