Lancaster and Morecambe counterfeit CD trio face financial investigation and potential cash seizure

Three members of a criminal conspiracy to trade tens of thousands of pounds of counterfeit music CDs are facing a financial probe and legal proceedings to seize back their ill gotten gains.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Lancashire Trading Standards has launched Proceeds of Crime proceedings against ringleader John Waldie, 56, of Stuart Avenue, Morecambe, and his two co-defendants.

Waldie, who made £464,000 from selling fake music CDs via Amazon, was previously jailed for 18 months.

He previously admitted 16 charges of unauthorised use of a registered trademark dating back as far as 2014 after a lengthy Trading Standards probe uncovered thousands of discs at addresses in Morecambe.

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Cash could be seized from the defendants

His partner, mum-of-four Sarah Forsyth, 47, also of Stuart Avenue, Morecambe, who sold CDs on e-Bay for a gain of around £2,000, admitted three similar charges and was given a community order with 40 hours unpaid work.

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Adam Keates, 32, of Belmont Close, Lancaster, who made around £16,000, received four months, suspended for a year, and 100 hours of unpaid work after admitting five charges of unauthorised use of a registered trademark and converting £16,987.60 of criminal property through his bank account - the payments for sales of counterfeit CDs sold via Amazon.

During a hearing at Preston's nightingale court at Preston North End's ground, Judge Simon Newell ordered a financial hearing to be set for October 8, 2021.

Proceeds of crime is the term given to money or assets gained by criminals during the course of their criminal activity.

The Proceeds of Crime Act has made it more and more common in the UK for asset recovery orders to be made, which include cash seizures or cash forfeitures.

The aim of seizing cash - or asking for it to be forfeited - is to stop a criminal from benefitting from crime, or to stop cash being used illegally.

Various authorities, including the Crown Prosecution Service, have powers to seek to confiscate these assets.

Following a complaint received by Trading Standards concerning the supply of counterfeit CDs, an officer visited an eBay store linked to the defendants and purchased Midnight Memories by One Direction.

More test purchases were carried out at other linked e-Bay stores and all yielded counterfeit albums.

On February 3, 2016 warrants were executed at commercial premises on Northgate and Whitegate and at Sefton House and Stuart Avenue.

Waldie previously argued he had benefited by around £57,000 - not £464,000 - during a Newton hearing, but Judge Simon Newell ruled his evidence was not credible, as he was able to sustain a lifestyle which involved the purchase of a 15 year old Bentley, personalised number plate and a trip to Hong Kong - despite declaring "very modest amounts" of income to the court and paying little or no tax.

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