Bilston fraudster fined £2k after selling fake CDs from the likes of Beyonce and Craig David
A fraudster has picked up a bill for more than £2,000 after he was caught producing and selling fake CDs of top-selling artists such as Beyonce and Craig David from his living room.
Paul Evans advertised on his own Facebook account under ‘Bilston Buy and Sell’.
Investigators found almost 50,000 CD files on his computer during a search of the one-bedroomed flat, Wolverhampton magistrates heard.
An advertisement for CDs costing £1, or six for £5, along with a seven-page list of of music discs was spotted on the website in July 2015 but no action was taken, said Mr Chris Simmonds, prosecuting on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council.
However, Evans continued his illegal trading and in July 2016, after three adverts were posted that month, a test purchase was made by an investigator from the British Phonographic Industry.
For three CDs and two DVDs, he was charged £7, compared with an estimated £25 if the discs had been bought legitimately. Evans was charging £1 per CD, making a 50p profit on each one.
The discs, described as ‘poorly created’, bore the trademarks of companies like Sony, Columbia, Vertigo and Universal even though they were not produced with their consent, said Mr Simmonds.
After a further test purchase was made in November, with Evans saying ‘If you can’t see what you want, just ask’, an investigation was launched.
His home in Broadmeadow Green, Stowlawn, was searched and 48,913 CDs and 468 film files found on his computer, plus stacks of discs lying around the living room. Among them were copies of Beyonce’s Lemonade and Craig David’s Following My Intuition and DVDs of War Dogs and Suicide Squad.
“Around 10 – 20,000 would be an average amount for people to have on their computers but anything above 30,000 is considered exceptional and indicative of supply,” said Mr Simmonds.
Conversations with customers showed he had made £165 from 40 transactions and there were also handwritten requests from six customers for 50 DVDs.
When interviewed Evans claimed he had been on the internet for only a few months and that he had sold very few discs, with most of his customers being family and friends.
But Mr Simmonds said: “This was a persistent and calculated offence involving a large number of trademarked discs which damaged those companies’ reputations. His profit margins were higher than a legal trader’s would have been.”
Defending, Mr David Bratt said the numbers involved were misleading, insisting that Evans, of previous good character, did not sell anything like 50,000 CDs.
“This is not a man of means, he was not living the high life, nor was he trying to deceive the public that these items were the real thing. His punishment started on the day he was charged in December 2016 and it has been a dead weight on his shoulders ever since,” said Mr Bratt.
Evans pleaded guilty to four charges of selling fake goods with a sign likely to be taken for a registered trademark and 10 of possessing goods with a false trademark for sale.
He was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £2,262 prosecution costs. Magistrates also confiscated his computer.