News item

Counterfeits cottage industry busted by trading standards

In a case brought by Denbighshire County Council Trading Standards a fraudster who set up a cottage industry importing and selling game console security circumvention devices, computer games, portable music players and clothing has been given a 52 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

Scott Cooke, of Rhyl, was also sentenced to 300 hours unpaid work and a 3 month curfew between the hours of 5.00pm and 8.00am, to be monitored by an electronic tag.

Following a lengthy prosecution which included two adjourned trials Cooke pleaded guilty to a total of 17 offences under the Fraud Act 2006, The Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988.

During a North Wales wide anti counterfeiting operation targeting markets and car boot sales, coordinated by the North Wales Fair Trading group, Cooke was found to be operating a car boot stall selling R4 devices, counterfeit Nintendo DS games and counterfeit Apple iPods.  The execution of a warrant at his property revealed the operation of a significant business importing and selling these illegal and counterfeit products via the internet.  A cash seizure of over £1500 was also made.

Cooke had operated the business over a 10 month period in 2009, by importing the illicit goods using websites in China and Hong Kong.  In addition to operating at markets and car boot sales he advertised the goods for sale using eBay and then despatched the goods nationwide.  It was also established that he was in the process of setting up his own websites dedicated to selling the illegal goods.  He built up a turnover of over £17,000 and the loss to the electronic games industry was estimated at some £30,000.

Cooke admitted participating in a fraudulent business by making and selling R4 devices designed to circumvent the security measures of a Nintendo DS console.  He also admitted the unauthorised use of the trade marks of Nintendo, Apple, Sony and Ed Hardy.

Scott Cooke was also sentenced to 300 hours unpaid work and a 3 month curfew between the hours of 5.00pm and 8.00am, to be monitored by an electronic tag.

Judge Niclas Parry sitting at Mold Crown Court said that this matter was so serious that it crosses the custody threshold.  He said it is an offence of academic proportions and cited the aggravating factors as the number of offences, the length of offending and volume of goods involved. Judge Parry also said that legitimate businesses lose profit, people lose jobs and paying consumers are conned from such crimes.

In suspending the prison sentence Judge Parry took into account the personal circumstances of the defendant in that he is the sole carer for his 10 month old son and also has a 14 year old daughter. 

A proceeds of crime investigation will now take place.