Sunday 23rd November, 2008/... A Dudley-based man who lived in luxury by selling illegally copied games, film and music at computer fairs and over the internet has been handed a three-year jail sentence following a major investigation by Wolverhampton Trading Standards, West Midlands Police and investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment Leisure and Software Publishers Association). Steven Raymond Adams, 38, of Loweswater Drive, Lower Gornal, Dudley, used proceeds from his crimes to live life in the fast lane. He owned a Spanish apartment, drove a Range Rover and even enjoyed a brief dalliance with celebrity by appearing in a health and fitness article in national tabloid The Sun (see link: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/article1045355.ece)
In The Sun splash, vain Adams bragged about spending£10,000 on extensive weight-loss surgery for him and his girlfriend and partner in crime, Julie Frendo. He bought a gastric band operation for himself for£6,000, trimming his greedy bulk from 22st to less than 13st, and his 33 year-old girlfriend had£4,000 on breast enlargement surgery.
Adams, together with Frendo and third accomplice Greg Gartside, 31, had masterminded a counterfeiting operation across the Midlands and North West England, which ran at the very least from February 2004 to January 2008. His illegal pirating operation was brought to a halt by trading standards and police when they apprehended him at Wolverhampton racecourse selling the fake copies from a stall called Midland Console Modifications.
For more than three-and-a-half years, and after a formal warning by Surrey County Council in August 2008, Adams ran his illegal operation. He persistently bulk copied games, software and movie discs.
On November 21 at Wolverhampton Crown Court Adams was jailed for three years, and Frendo handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, in a case that has been described as the biggest with which Wolverhampton Trading Standards has ever handled. The two admitted charges relating to the illegal copying, along with GregGartside, of Chorley, Lancashire, who knowingly assited in Adams’ illegal empire.
On August 29 this year Adams pleaded guilty to 44 counts, all related to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994, and asked for five additional offences to be taken into consideration in relation to items found in an industrial unit raided on July 9, where he was operating a copying factory.
Adams is also now subject to a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) Investigation which is being jointly conducted by Wolverhampton Trading Standards and West Midlands Police. The 38-year old is reckoned to have made more than£180,000 from his counterfeit operation that has cost the games, film and music industry an estimated£1million. At his own request Adams was kept on remand until sentencing to prevent further breaches of the Trade Mark Act.
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said:“This is one of the most unusual cases ELSPA has ever been involved with. The sheer persistence of Adams, Frendo and Gartside of selling illegally copied video games, film and music is staggering. So was Adams’ own insistence that he be remanded to prevent further illegal activities! ELSPA would like to thank Wolverhampton Trading Standards and their local police department for their work in bringing these and similar thieves to justice. In the run-up to Christmas it is worth adding that often pirated games do not run properly– and some can even damage the expensive consoles in which they are played.”
Mr Barry Berlin, prosecuting, yesterday told Wolverhampton Crown Court:“A conservative estimate of the loss to the industry is£924,000 with almost 30,000 infringing objects and at least£200,000 profit for this man. Adams ran a substantial counterfeiting operation all over the country, literally from Wolverhampton through to Carlisle. It was persistent and it was serious,” he said. He added that the council had“never come across anything of this scale.”
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.
Local and national jobs are lost as result of pirate operations.