Operation Predator preys on counterfeit DVD sellers

On Saturday 18th February 2006 at 12.45pm, amazed shoppers witnessed the Metropolitan Police, Trading Standards, Home Office Immigration, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and Harrow Council CCTV operators working in partnership to swoop on the numerous street traders that sell counterfeit DVDs in St Anns Road, Harrow.

The operation, named ‘Predator’, was organised in response to complaints received regarding the continual stream of Chinese itinerant traders who persistently target Harrow as an area to sell counterfeit and pornographic DVDs.

In excess of 1,500 counterfeit DVDs, including latest blockbuster hits, were seized which breached registered trade marks of major film companies such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros and Disney.

The Operation resulted in thirteen traders being arrested for offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994. Twelve of them were held in custody while Detectives and Trading Standards Enforcement Officers conducted interviews throughout the night assisted by interpreters.

Twelve traders, nine male and three female, were charged and appeared before Harrow Magistrates Court on Monday 20th February 2006.

All twelve pleaded guilty. Some of the traders had been prosecuted before for similar offences whilst others had had their goods seized by Trading Standards and were subject to ongoing investigations. These traders admitted similar offences in the past which were also taken into consideration by Magistrates when passing their sentences.

The Magistrates stated that these were serious offences and custodial sentences would be appropriate. However, having heard various mitigating circumstances, most of the traders where given 12 – 15 month conditional discharges and ordered to pay between £40 – £70 costs. Two traders who had previous convictions were given 28 day custodial sentences and a third has been remanded in custody to be sentenced on Wednesday.

Bill Bilon, Deputy Director of Trading Standards said, “These street traders are taking trade from legitimate businesses and damaging the economy. The DVDs represent poor value for money as they are often very poor quality as they have been filmed in cinemas with hand held camcorders before being burned onto discs. These street traders are also harming the local economy by taking trade away from bona fide businesses.

Our experience shows that a majority of the pirate DVD sellers are Chinese asylum seekers or illegal immigrants who are forced into this trade by their ‘gang masters’ and the profits that are made are used to fund other illegal activity such as people trafficking. I hope that the custodial sentences imposed will act as a deterrent to those who continually plague Harrow town centre selling counterfeit DVDs”

Raymond Leinster, FACT Director General said: “We are pleased that Brent & Harrow Trading Standards and the Harrow Police have taken this action against those involved in DVD piracy on the streets of London. DVD piracy involves organised criminal networks and is often linked to other crimes such as people smuggling, drugs and other serious criminality. It is a real crime, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.”

Latest Content

Arrests News

Illegal streaming service shut down and man arrested

A West Mercia police operation working closely with FACT have arrested a man in Shrewsbury in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium television channels, and other copyrighted material. A 56 year old man was arrested under section 44 of the Serious Crime Act and Section 11 of the Fraud Act on suspicion of facilitating … Continued

News

Man jailed for illegally supplying and viewing Premier League content

A UK man who ran an operation offering illegal access to Premier League football has been jailed for 16 months. Mr Paul Faulkner appeared in front of Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday 6 July after pleading guilty to multiple copyright and fraud offences, including accessing pirate content for his own use. Mr Faulkner was the … Continued

Blog Due Diligence Blog

What is investment migration?

Investment migration programmes offer individuals and families the opportunity to acquire additional citizenship or residency in another country. Governments benefit significantly from these programmes with investment funds improving the lives of their citizens and future citizens. It is vital for those applying for citizenship by investment to apply through approved schemes to ensure proper vetting … Continued

Blog Due Diligence Blog

What should you expect from a due diligence provider?

  A due diligence provider, such as FACT, conducts investigations and provides insight on key risk areas to manage risk and allow informed business decisions. Trust and confidence matter more than ever, which is why you need to be sure that you are choosing the right due diligence provider. Things you should expect from a … Continued