Prison sentences for men running international counterfeiting operation
Two men are beginning prison sentences after being found guilty of a large-scale, international counterfeiting operation that generated criminal profits of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Luton Crown Court yesterday (21 May) sentenced Mr Kin Man Chan to 30 months in prison and Mr Wai Kong Man to 12 months after being prosecuted by Central Bedfordshire Council for their part in the online counterfeit DVD business.
Mr Wai Kong Man, 44, of Corbet House, Banbury Estate, London and Mr Kin Man Chan, 45, of The Highway, Stanmore, London were charged with conspiracy to supply counterfeit goods after the joint criminal and financial investigation which began in 2010.
The investigation, undertaken in conjunction with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), revealed that an internet sales website offering film, gaming and music products was back up and running after a previous investigation in 2009 had led to significant custodial sentences for two other people.
The new investigation found that payments amounting to hundreds of thousands pounds were being made via PayPal and that these monies were being re-directed to bank accounts in China. The website gave the impression that the products were being sent from China direct but the investigation, involving test purchases by Central Bedfordshire Council Trading Standards officers, revealed that the goods were being posted within the UK.
Mr Wai Kong Man was identified as the person posting the purchased DVDs and running what was suspected to be a DVD counterfeiting factory. Financial evidence linked Mr Kin Man Chan to buying equipment used in counterfeiting DVDs as far back as 2005. Financial evidence also linked him with buying computer equipment that was supplied to Mr Man and pointed to Mr Chan being one of the main organisers running the counterfeit business.
Although both men pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court on the 20 April 2012 a further hearing was necessary to determine the level of Mr Chan's involvement in the enterprise as he had denied being in charge of the factory and running the website. The Court subsequently dismissed these assertions and instead found that he was not only a major player in this enterprise but also had connections with the previous investigation in 2009.
After the sentencing Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Deputy Member for Sustainable Communities, Services at Central Bedfordshire Council said: "This joint investigation by our Trading Standards team and Financial Investigations Unit and FACT has been going on for some time but we're pleased that together we were able to put a stop to this. We will not tolerate people profiting from crime and hope this puts other people off carrying out this type of illegal activity."
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, added, "Working in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Trading Standards a complex criminal organisation with global links has been shut down.
"The work done by the Financial Investigations Unit alongside FACT’s investigators was crucial in identifying the flow of money and the operation of the business.
Criminal activity on this scale threatens the livelihoods of the two million people working in the UK’s creative industries and harms legitimate businesses."
Proceeds of Crime confiscation proceedings in respect of Mr Chan are on-going and will be the subject of a later hearing in October.
For further information please contact: Anna Copperwheat, Media Officer on 0300 300 4671
DATE: 22 May 2013