An unemployed husband and wife piracy and counterfeiting outfit has been imprisoned for a combined total of 27 months after being convicted for copying and selling pirated games, music and film discs whilst falsely claiming benefits.
The couple was brought to justice after Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council Trading Standards officers, local Police and an ELSPA investigator searched the family home in Formby and uncovered a secret cupboard hidden in the wall, containing an array of counterfeit discs. The estimated value of the seized games alone, if they were genuine retail versions, sits at £28,000.
The two offenders, now separated, were sentenced on 1st August at Liverpool Crown Court. Andrew King of Alexandra Road, Southport received 21 months imprisonment. His sentence comprised 18 months for Trade Mark offences and falsely claiming benefits, as well as three months for an earlier conviction on intellectual property theft for which he had been given a previous conditional discharge. His estranged wife, Angela Susan King of Dales Walk, Freshfield in Formby received six months for the same offences.
Michael Rawlinson, deputy director general of ELSPA commented: "These offenders were profiting through crime, not only riding on the back of the creative industries but also lining their pockets with tax payers money. We will continue to work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions, Trading Standards and the Police, all of whom give us excellent support and assistance."
Andrew Naisbitt, head of Trading Standards for Sefton Council said: "We are very pleased with the outcome of the court case and hopefully it sends out a strong message that piracy and benefit fraud in any form will not be tolerated.
"Our dedicated and committed team takes piracy very seriously and we will not hesitate to take court action against anyone caught responsible for it.
"Not only are consumers short-changed when they buy poor quality fake goods but legitimate retailers also lose out on business."
The Kings were targeted last year as part of 'Operation Zouk', a nationwide operation by the Department for Work and Pensions working with Police, Trading Standards and trade bodies such as ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) to uncover criminals who claim benefits whilst illegally supplementing their income by selling counterfeit DVDs and CDs.