HEALTH TABLETS SCAM SMASHED

Royal sued for £35M in UK over Bol­ly­wood ob­ses­sion

The People - - NEWS FEATURES -

food sup­ple­ments to com­bat arthri­tis and colds have been ex­posed as ex­pen­sive fakes.

Trad­ing stan­dards chiefs found they had only tiny amounts of the ad­ver­tised in­gre­di­ents.

Their in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched af­ter a com­plaint that pills from Vi­ta­s­tore were less ef­fec­tive then oth­ers bought from dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers.

Lab tests es­tab­lished that the tablets, which cost as much as £11 for 120, were “up to 99 per cent de­fi­cient” in the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents they were sup­posed to con­tain.

The busi­ness­man be­hind the scam has now been given a 10-month sus­pended jail sen­tence af­ter ad­mit­ting the fraud­u­lent sale of food sup­ple­ments. The pills were sold to on­line shop­pers across the UK by Rakesh Od­e­dra, 38, of Il­ford, Es­sex. His com­pany Dirra Group was also fined £24,000 at Ox­ford crown court. Its Vi­ta­s­tore site now ap­pears to have stopped trad­ing.

The Ox­ford­shire coun­cil trad­ing stan­dards depart­ment, which brought the case af­ter the com­plaint by a lo­cal res­i­dent, said: “Vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers should be able to trust the ac­cu­racy of food sup­ple­ment de­scrip­tions.

“Our role is not only to pro­tect pur­chasers but also to sup­port the vast ma­jor­ity of hon­est busi­nesses by tack­ling rogue com­pa­nies.”

The UK food sup­ple­ments mar­ket is boom­ing, with sales of £431mil­lion in 2016 and a pre­dicted to­tal of £457mil­lion by 2021.

Al­most half of all Bri­tons take vi­ta­mins and min­er­als daily – but health ex­perts have ad­vised such con­sumers to be wary, es­pe­cially when or­der­ing from abroad.

The Food Stan­dards Agency, which reg­u­lates the in­dus­try, said: “We ad­vise con­sumers to check out the prod­uct and buy only from rep­utable sources such as phar­ma­cies or known web­sites.”

The Age UK char­ity warned that fraud­sters con the el­derly out of mil­lions of pounds by sell­ing them “use­less” health sup­ple­ments.

CIN­EMA ROY­ALTY Bol­ly­wood star Aish­warya Rai was said to be on visit wish list STAR: Anil Kapoor ROW: Busi­ness­man Ahmed, left, poses with Sheikh Ha­mad FILM FAN: With Bol­ly­wood star Ab­hishek Bachchan in snap

EX­POSED: Con­man Od­e­dra

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