Friday 9th January/... A raid at a Staffordshire house has resulted in the apprehension of an unemployed man who operated an illegal chipping service on several websites – all linked to Gumtree.com, a classified ads and community site. In an intelligence-led operation involving Staffordshire Trading Standards and investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), the home of an unemployed 30 year-old man was raided this week.
Prior to the raid, an ELSPA investigator and a Trading Standards officer had visited the residence and handed over a console for alteration that would enable the console to play illegally copied games. Whilst at the property, the offender also offered the undercover investigators pirated Xbox 360 games and three rogue Xbox 360 titles were purchased. The console and games were then forensically examined to provide the evidence needed to obtain a search warrant.
Four computers with burners and more than 1,000 illegally copied games were seized in the raid – including 700 Xbox 360 games, 300 Wii titles and 100 PlayStation 2 games. Three Xbox 360 and two Nintendo Wii consoles were also seized. The offender, who cannot yet be named for legal reasons, made a full confession at the time and admitted to running the illegal operation for approximately two years.
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said: “ELSPA works closely with Trading Standards across the country and we would like to thank Staffordshire Trading Standards for their excellent work in bringing this online operation to an end. Our team in the Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU) will step up its fight against counterfeiters and illegal chipping services in 2009. Such illegal activity can pose real health dangers for the public and certainly deprives gamers of any proper quality control. Furthermore, it can cause the industry to lose vital income and with it jobs across the UK. “
Nigel Cotton, Senior Investigating Officer for the Staffordshire Trading Standards Department, added: ”Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards Officers will continue to take enforcement action to reduce counterfeiting to protect the people and businesses of the county. Offenders face up to ten years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. We also pursue any proceeds of crime with a view to confiscation.”
A POCA (Proceeds Of Crime Act) investigation has already begun to estimate the criminal gain from the offender’s illegal activities.
About ELSPA - http://www.elspa.com
ELSPA (The Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.
ELSPA’s activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Anti-Piracy UK and EU, PR and Communication, Events. More information on all these activities can be found at http://www.elspa.com.
About Software Piracy and its negative impact on both consumers and industry.
ELSPA estimates criminal gain through computer and video games piracy sits at approximately £600 million.
Piracy/counterfeiting is illegal and punishable by fines and jail sentences.
The illegal copying of software poses the very real threat of criminal prosecution and a criminal record, as well as the risk of massive personal financial loss under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Consumers have no recourse under law for faulty pirated games, which can damage hardware.
Counterfeited/pirated games are often mixed with obscene or pornographic material.
Local and national jobs are lost as result of pirate operations.
Proven links exist between many organised counterfeiting organisations and dealers in drugs and pornography.
For further information on ELSPA or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Sarah Hartland/Gary Burns
Tel: 01462 456780
Fax: 01462 456781
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by: Barrington Harvey, Trooper’s Yard, Bancroft, Hitchin SG5 1JW