A FRAUDSTER who circulated thousands of pirated films and pieces of music online - and was caught red-handed with 5,000 counterfeited discs - has been ordered to pay back almost £19,000 of his ill-gotten gains.
Simon Seaton of Ashleigh Gardens, Woodlesford, is currently serving a jail sentence for copyright and fraud offences after an undercover trading standards investigation found he was involved in routinely advertising and supplying, via a secure website, pirated material including music and films.
He has now been told he must return £18,901.75, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Seaton was nabbed after various test purchases were made from him by investigators.
This led to a Woodlesford address being raided by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, the police and PRS for Music.
Investigators found almost 5,000 copied discs and copying paraphernalia. It turned out he was running a huge nationwide pirating network.
Seaton admitted running a fraudulent business that adversely impacted upon both copyright holders and legitimate music retailers, online and on the high street.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to 27 copyright offences. He also asked the court to take 12 further similar offences into consideration. Seaton admitted copying MP3 discs on a daily basis, for supply nationwide.
He now has six months to pay back the money or face a further 10 months in prison.
David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said “This was a long and protracted investigation against a sophisticated counterfeiting operation. Persons involved in counterfeiting are making large profits, usually not declaring that income to HMRC and this Service will carry out financial investigations and hit the criminals where it hurts – their pocket.”
Chris Stabeler, of PRS for Music, added: “We actively monitor the online availability of both physical and digital copies of music, and pursue those who seek to gain from the illegal use of our members music.
“This activity deprives songwriters and other creators of music from their just reward, and the sentence reinforces how seriously the courts view this type of crime.”
Councillor Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said everything possible would be done to “deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains”.
Anyone wishing to report the sale of counterfeit or illegal goods should call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.