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Bolton raids seize almost half a million pounds in counterfeit goods

Wednesday 31 August 2005/... ELSPA, the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association, today revealed that three simultaneous raids at homes across Bolton were carried out by Trading Standards officers last week, to smash out illegal trading of counterfeit goods.

The raids resulted in three arrests and the seizure of hundreds of products including pirated and imported video games, PC software, hardware, counterfeit clothing and watches with an estimated legitimate street value of close to £500,000.

The raid last Friday involved officers from Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council working with local police forces, ELSPA and other anti-piracy investigators from the film, music and clothing industries.

The suspects, ranging in age from 16 to 35, were released on bail and will be dealt with by way of summons after all counterfeit goods have been examined. None of the counterfeiters arrested were connected to each other. The youngest counterfeit trader had a fully operational business run through eBay from his home that allowed for online payments and gave the impression that he was above the law.

The operation was carried out under the provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1994 which criminalises product counterfeiting, the maximum penalty on conviction for which is 10 years imprisonment and/or a £5000 fine. In addition, all counterfeit items seized will be forfeited through the courts.

Michael Rawlinson, deputy director general of ELSPA commented: "Piracy is damaging to all levels of the computer and video games market, costing the industry millions of pounds every year and supplying consumers with sub-standard goods. Catching an eBay trader shows that even using the Internet does not make illegal traders invisible. ELSPA wishes to thank those authorities involved for their efforts to clamp down on the purveyors of pirated software and computer games both in markets and those who trade online. These raids represent one more step in our ongoing efforts to rid this country of counterfeiting."

ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) represents the interests of the UK computer and video games publishers. It has a dedicated anti piracy unit with investigators based across the UK and often works closely with the Police, Trading Standards and Customs & Excise to combat computer and video games piracy.

Anyone with any information on computer and video games counterfeiting should contact the police, their local Trading Standards Office or call the ELSPA anti piracy unit hotline on 08705 133405

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