Tuesday 8 November 2005/... A two-year anti-piracy operation came to a successful close on Friday with the arrest of a renowned counterfeiter and the recovery of an estimated £250,000 worth of games, music and film discs, after ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) and local authorities hit four locations in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.
The 35-year-old man, who has previous convictions for counterfeiting offences and assault, had been under observation for some time. The confiscated copied games included PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube titles and formed the majority of the haul. It was also apparent that he had been illegally 'chipping' consoles.
A team of ELSPA investigators with Dumfries and Galloway police and trading standards officers searched a one-bedroom flat belonging to the individual, as well as a shop, an internet café and two other houses. A search of the flat uncovered a hidden staircase behind a cupboard door, which led up to a secret second floor. This comprised of several rooms full of state of the art copying equipment and a large amount of counterfeit merchandise, as well as a safe containing jewellery and over £2,000 in cash. A stash of copied discs was also found hidden in a fake partition. Although this was the offender's listed home address - thought to be a front for fraudulent benefit claims - he in fact resided in a nearby house with his wife and children.
"ELSPA continues to crack down on those who seek to profit illegally from selling copied games," said Michael Rawlinson, deputy director general of ELSPA. "We would like to thank Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and Trading Standards department for all their hard work and cooperation in helping to prevent counterfeiters from undermining legitimate local business."
ELSPA is now forensically examining the seized evidence. It is likely that court proceedings will follow.
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 that criminal financial 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.