Morecambe man who made a fortune from a fake music CD scam is jailed
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John Waldie, 56, of Stuart Avenue, Morecambe, made £464,000 from selling fake albums via Amazon, Preston crown Court heard, with his offending dating back as far as 2014.
He admitted 16 charges of unauthorised use of a registered trademark after a lengthy Lancashire Trading Standards probe uncovered thousands of discs at addresses in Morecambe.
His partner, mum-of-four Sarah Forsyth, 47, also of Stuart Avenue, Morecambe, who sold CDs on e-Bay, admitted three similar charges and was given a community order with 40 hours unpaid work.
Their co defendant Adam Keates, 32, of Belmont Close, Lancaster, received four months, suspended for a year, and 100 hours of unpaid work after admitting five charges of unauthorised use of a registered trademark.
He also pleaded guilty to converting £16,987.60 of criminal property through his bank account - which payments for sales of counterfeit CDs sold via Amazon went into.
The case suffered a delay as Waldie sought to distance himself from his involvement in the operation, even blaming another man who has since died.
A trial of issue had to take place before Preston Crown Court to determine his level of involvement in the enterprise.
Barbara Webster, prosecuting, said Waldie had benefited by around £464,765.71, while evidence showed Forsyth made around £2,000 and Keates got olayments fo around £16,000.
She said: "Following a complaint received by Trading Standards concerning the supply of counterfeit CDs, an officer visited the eBay store and purchased Midnight Memories by One Direction.
"The CD was received. It was sent to the trademark holder where it was confirmed to be counterfeit."
She told the court more test purchases were carried out at other linked e-Bay stores and all yielded counterfeit albums.
She added: " On February 3, 2016 warrants were executed at commercial premises on Northgate and Whitegate and other addresses - Sefton House and Stuart Avenue."
Waldie's defence lawyer said he had become a successful businessman despite struggling to read and write.
The defendant 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 Waldie had declared very modest amounts of income to the court and paid little or no tax, yet 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.
After the case, Chris Sheehan, Content Protection Investigator for record labels association the BPI, said: “Selling fake CDs is illegal. Whether it’s on a street corner or online, it makes no difference. It’s a criminal offence.
"It rips off consumers, it rips off legitimate retailers and it rips off the artists and record labels who go unrewarded for their time, investment and creativity.
"Lancashire Trading Standards has done a great job in bringing these three criminals to justice, and BPI has gained some further intelligence that will help us investigate other criminals and protect consumers from fake CDs and vinyl.”