The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association rings in the new year with news of their first anti-piracy raid of 2009, in which they seized computers and more than 1,000 illegally copied games.
The raid occurred in Staffordshire, England, at a house that was running an illegal copied games business via online classifieds site Gumtree.com. The raid kicked off with an ELSPA investigator and a Staffordshire Trading Standards officer visiting the house of a 30 year-old unemployed man, delivering a console to be altered. While they waited, the game pirate offered them copied Xbox 360 titles, which were purchased to be analysed.
Having enough evidence for a warrant, the house was raided earlier this week, netting the investigators more than 1,000 copied games - 700 Xbox 360 titles, 300 Wii games, and 100 for the PlayStation 2 - along with several modded consoles. The man confessed to his crimes, admitting to running the operation for two years.
And he would have continued running it if not for that damn team of ELSPA investigators and their dog. Congratulations, ELSPA, for successfully solving the mystery of the chipped 360. May the Scooby snacks flow like wine.
First Raid of 2009 Busts Chipping Operation
Computers with burners and over 1,000 illegally copied games seized in raid
Friday 9th January/... A raid at a Staffordshire house has resulted in the apprehension of an unemployed man who operated an illegal chipping service on several websites - all linked to Gumtree.com, a classified ads and community site. In an intelligence-led operation involving Staffordshire Trading Standards and investigators from ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association), the home of an unemployed 30 year-old man was raided this week.
Prior to the raid, an ELSPA investigator and a Trading Standards officer had visited the residence and handed over a console for alteration that would enable the console to play illegally copied games. Whilst at the property, the offender also offered the undercover investigators pirated Xbox 360 games and three rogue Xbox 360 titles were purchased. The console and games were then forensically examined to provide the evidence needed to obtain a search warrant.
Four computers with burners and more than 1,000 illegally copied games were seized in the raid - including 700 Xbox 360 games, 300 Wii titles and 100 PlayStation 2 games. Three Xbox 360 and two Nintendo Wii consoles were also seized. The offender, who cannot yet be named for legal reasons, made a full confession at the time and admitted to running the illegal operation for approximately two years.
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said: "ELSPA works closely with Trading Standards across the country and we would like to thank Staffordshire Trading Standards for their excellent work in bringing this online operation to an end. Our team in the Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU) will step up its fight against counterfeiters and illegal chipping services in 2009. Such illegal activity can pose real health dangers for the public and certainly deprives gamers of any proper quality control. Furthermore, it can cause the industry to lose vital income and with it jobs across the UK. "
Nigel Cotton, Senior Investigating Officer for the Staffordshire Trading Standards Department, added: "Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards Officers will continue to take enforcement action to reduce counterfeiting to protect the people and businesses of the county. Offenders face up to ten years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. We also pursue any proceeds of crime with a view to confiscation."
A POCA (Proceeds Of Crime Act) investigation has already begun to estimate the criminal gain from the offender's illegal activities.