Pirate DVD haul seized

Supt Stuart Ellison with Chief Trading Standards Officer Julie Middlehurst
Supt Stuart Ellison with Chief Trading Standards Officer Julie Middlehurst

TWO people have been arrested after more than 2,000 pirate DVDs and computer games were seized from homes across the borough.

A joint investigation by Wigan trading standards officers and police discovered counterfeit goods were being sold in the area to online customers across the country.

Search warrants were carried out at two properties, which uncovered more than 2,000 fake discs as well as various computer equipment.

It is believed the illegal operation had amassed more than £150,000.

Chief Trading Standards Officer Julie Middlehurst said: “The individual running the organised operation had attempted to hide his identity by setting up bank accounts using relatives’ names as well as using an alias name and false address.

“But these dishonest measures ultimately provided no protection when pitted against the impressive investigative skills of Trading Standards.

“From the evidence we obtained, the individual appears to have made in excess of £150,000, while at the same time, claiming benefits.”

Officers are looking at potential Proceeds of Crime action, including freezing bank accounts, to recover cash made from the sale of fake goods.

Ms Middlehurst added: “We are committed to working with all partners, and will always share our information with the various benefit agencies to ensure that these individuals are brought to justice.

“During difficult times, the temptation to buy things ‘under the counter’ can prove irresistible. But this is not a ‘victimless’ crime. Selling counterfeits harms the UK economy, undermines legitimate enterprise and affects local jobs.

“We urge communities to come forward rather than turning a blind eye. Without your help, ridding our neighbourhoods of these illicit goods would be all the more difficult.”

Supt Stuart Ellison, of Wigan Police, said: “Police will continue to work closely with Trading Standards to prosecute those who deal in counterfeit goods and I would encourage people to report suspicious activity to us on 0161 872 5050 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Anyone with concerns about counterfeit goods, call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.