Software fraudsters escape raid

The first in a series of government raids resulted in several arrests, but market traders suspected of selling illegal copies of software evaded capture

Trading Standards officers seized £1.5m of counterfeit goods during raids at Wembley Market in London during November and December, the Department of Trade and Industry reported earlier this week.

Brent Council, which organised the raids, said on Thursday that unfortunately traders suspected of selling counterfeit software managed to avoid capture.

"We had targeted some software stalls that we were aware of and we had someone there from ELSPA [the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association] who looked at some stalls, however, they left the market before we arrived there," said Giles Speid, the principal Trading Standards officer at Brent Council.

About one tonne of counterfeit goods were seized during the raid, including bootleg DVDs and CDs and fake designer clothing items.

The raids were the first carried out by the Intellectual Property Crime Group, which was set up by the government in February 2004. A number of government organisations and private sector bodies were involved in the planning of the raids, including the Police, HM Immigration Service and the British Phonographic Industry, which meant that traders were questioned for other crimes such as claiming fraudulent benefit claims and false passports.

The raids led to the arrest of two individuals for the sale of counterfeit goods, the detention of a number of suspected illegal immigrants and the identification of a number of benefit fraudsters.

Speid said further raids are planned at Wembley Market but no dates have been scheduled.

A heap of seized counterfeit goods

Some of the goods seized in the raid

A trading standards office in a stab vest atop a pile of confiscated goods

One of the trading standards officers, still in body armor, displays some of the confiscated goods.

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