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Wolverhampton court case reveals pirate's life of luxury

Microscope contributor

Details of the largest case ever instigated by Wolverhampton Trading Standards against software piracy have started to come to light with a prison sentence being handed out to a counterfeiter.

The conclusion of the case that was heard in Wolverhampton Crown Court last week with Steve Adams, Julie Frendo and Gregg Gartside admitting charges relating to illegal copying and selling at Wigan Computer Fair.

Adams was described as living the life of luxury with a £14,600 Rolex watch and enough cash to spare £4,000 for his girlfriend Julie Frendo to have breast enlargement surgery.

His sales of ripped off software and films, peddled through computer fairs, supported an apartment in Spain, a Range Rover and some weight-loss surgery, which involved having a gastric band fitted for £6,000.

Barry Berlin, prosecuting, told the court that the Council had never seen an operation on this scale, which involved 30,000 counterfeit discs, and Adams had been running a “substantial counterfeiting operation all over the country, literally from Wolverhampton through to Carlisle.”

“The cost to the industry is in the region of £924,000. We submit that the profit to him is around £200,000, but that’s a conservative estimate,” he added that £627,000 had been moved around his bank accounts.

Adams was given two year sand a further 12 months for offending while on bail. Frendo picked up a 12 months suspended sentence and Gartside, who helped out at the computer fairs, also received a 12 month suspended sentence.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) has been supporting efforts to clamp down on piracy and Najeeb Khan, vice chair of the BSA UK country committee, backed the tough sentences.

“While Mr Adams and his accomplices enjoyed a period of luxury, the scale of their duplicity was unsustainable. Pirates may profit in the short-term but this case should be regarded as a warning to others involved in the sale of counterfeit software that they will be caught and the consequences can be serious,” he said.

Last month the BSA notched up another victory against piracy in Wolverhampton after issuing proceedings against the owner of Wolverhampton-based RJ-Software.


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