Tuesday 8th August 2006/ A husband and wife have been ordered to pay back £600,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) following a joint confiscation investigation by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council and the North West Regional Asset Recovery team, after a conviction for counterfeiting offences in 2005.
Andrew King, 53, and Angela Susan Jones (formerly King's wife, but now separated), 42, were ordered back to Liverpool Crown Court for a hearing on 2nd August, after having been previously imprisoned for 21 months and six months respectively for pirating offences brought to light by an ELSPA Anti-Piracy Unit investigator.
The court assessed that Mr King's financial benefit from criminality was £198,256.52 and Jones' calculated at £437,725.17. An order was made that they pay back this amount within six months or serve 30 months and three years imprisonment in default respectively. Should King and Jones fail to make payment before the expiration of this deadline, they must still pay back the outstanding balance after serving their sentences.
Michael Rawlinson, director general of ELSPA commented: "This case demonstrates the enormous penalties faced by those who sell illegally copied computer and video games. Any profit made through this kind of activity can be claimed back under POCA, and shows anyone tempted to become involved that piracy doesn't pay."
The couple were originally brought to justice after Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council Trading Standards officers, local Police and an ELSPA investigator searched the family home in Formby and uncovered a secret cupboard hidden in the wall, containing an array of counterfeit discs in 2004. The estimated value of the seized games alone sat at £28,000.
On 1st August the two offenders were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court. Andrew King of Alexandra Road, Southport received 21 months imprisonment. His sentence comprised 18 months for Trade Mark offences and falsely claiming benefits, as well as three months for an earlier conviction on intellectual property theft for which he had been given a previous conditional discharge. His estranged wife, Angela Susan King of Dales Walk, Freshfield in Formby received six months for the same offences.
The North West Regional Asset Recovery Team then began a financial investigation into the couple.
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 £540 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.