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Wales CD/DVD counterfeiter gets 4-year jail sentence

Gorden Noel Cullen from Wirral, North Wales, is the latest counterfeiter to be sentenced as a result of 'Operation Buzzard', a joint enforcement operation involving Trading Standards Departments, North Wales Police and representatives of MCPS, FACT and ELSPA. It is the conclusion of a series of co-ordinated raids following surveillance operations and a series of filmed test purchases at local markets.

Cullen, who was on holiday in Thailand at the time, was arrested at Heathrow airport upon his return to the UK. Subsequent enquiries revealed that Cullen also operated a mail order operation, advertising a 44 page list of product and supplying CDs and DVDs advertised on the Internet.

A financial investigation by the Regional Assets Recovery Agency (RART) showed that Cullen had also made a minimum of £190K from his counterfeiting activities; a total criminal benefit of some £256,000. Cullen owned three cars, timeshare properties in Orlando and Las Vagas, and took regular holidays to the United States and Thailand.

Cullen was sentenced to 32 months in respect of 14 offences under Trade Marks and Copyright legislation, and 16 months consecutively for the benefit frauds. A confiscation order for £130,000 was made, together with a compensation order to the Department for Work and Pensions in the sum of £66,827.05. Failure to pay these amounts within 6 months will result in a default term of a further three years imprisonment. Even Counsel for Cullen admitted that 'The profits in this enterprise were great, and the losses to the industry were huge'.

Following a separate operation in Manchester, a man was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud and for copyright offences relating to distribution of counterfeit DVDs. A raid on his home uncovered £50,000 in cash hidden under the bath, 56 DVD burners, 7 computers and other equipment as well as over 8,000 DVDs.

In raids in two London premises, FACT assisted by officers from the Metropolitan Police, last week seized over 145,000 counterfeit DVDs, with a street value of over £430,000, in raids on two premises in London. No arrests were made at either location and investigations are continuing.

Story filed 10.03.08

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