News item

Fake games ts result

Croydon Council’s trading standards service has concluded its landmark Crown Court case against a prolific computer games counterfeiter in a case suspected of involving more than £800,000.
 
Franz Chung’s sentencing was concluded on 25 May at Croydon Crown Court after a protracted investigation going back to 2007 - in which the council were assisted by officers from ELSPA (the UK software publishing association).

At the time when charges were first brought this was one of the very first cases in the country to include money laundering offences being taken into account.

Chung was identified and apprehended by trading standards officers after he was found to be dealing in fake computer games and also offering to modify games consoles to allow them to play the unlicensed software. He is thought to have operated from several computer fairs including one at Ashburton and is believed to have been trading for at least two years prior to being apprehended in 2007.
 
In addition to these offences under the copyright, patents and design act he was also accused and pleaded guilty to two additional offences relating to money laundering and abuse of trademarks. Both sets of convictions came with a 12 month prison sentence, with the two terms to run concurrently.  Croydon was awarded full costs in the case, amounting to £26,700.
The award of full costs was made in view of the need to enable Croydon’s trading standards team to continue with similar investigations and prosecutions.
 
As part of the final sentencing the court confirmed the forfeiture of all goods and property seized during the investigation. This included laptop computers, gaming machines such as X-box’s and numerous counterfeit games.
 
At an earlier proceeds of crime hearing the court also confirmed that Chung was liable for payment of £169,000 in unlawfully earned money. The police are currently pursuing this debt, and should it remain unpaid the 12 month prison sentence would extend by a further 6 months.
 
Councillor Steve O’Connell, cabinet member for community safety, said: ‘This has been an exceptional case that has played out over several years due to the many complexities involved. I want to praise the officers whose dedication should have seen justice served, but I share the disappointment of the court in learning that this criminal may have fled to avoid a prison sentence. We will continue to track down traders like this who operate outside the law and we will prosecute wherever possible.’