A criminal involved in a massive counterfeit clothing scam has been jailed for seven years and ordered to pay apparel giants Nike and Tommy Hilfiger $3.5 million in damages.

William Farmer, of South Carolina, admitted trafficking in counterfeit clothes and conspiracy to launder money after police discovered him buying irregular T-shirts from an authorised dealer and replacing the genuine labels and logos.

A judge told the 49-year-old that when on probation he must pay Nike $3.4m and Tommy Hilfiger $110,000 and ordered the confiscation of $578,000, eight vehicles and thousands of knockoff items.

Prosecutors described his operation as "the biggest in the nation" while five co-defendants were also sentenced recently.