Police cuff 28 in £10m counterfeit haul

Operation Vendura sweeps Scotland

Scottish police have arrested 28 in a five-day operation which netted an estimated £10m in counterfeit goods. The dragnet has been hailed as the most successful in Scottish history.

The final tally of "Operation Vendura" included 4000 CDs, 3000 DVDs, PCs, CD and DVD burners and labelling equipment siezed during raids on 28 private homes and two markets in Alloa, Falkirk, Grangemouth, Stirling and Tullibody. The swoop began last Friday with dawn raids on the homes of suspected counterfeiters. It ended with visits to addresses in Falkirk and Stirling suspected as being bases for vendors offering pirated material on eBay.

The operation was organised by the Computer Crime Unit of Central Scotland Police in conjunction with the British Phonographic Industry. BPI Director of Anti-Piracy David Martin said: “If this haul was recovered anywhere in the UK it would be impressive - but it’s nothing short of remarkable considering that this operation was completed by one of the smallest police forces in the UK. This is a perfect demonstration of how working hand in hand with industry can have a massive impact.”

The BPI’s anti-piracy investigator for Scotland, Pat Ferguson, added: “We’ve done smaller raids in the region before, but nothing on this kind of scale. Plus, it serves as a far bigger deterrent when we’re able to raid their houses. The most determined pirates have nothing but contempt for the law and would be out flogging fakes days after being bailed if we didn’t seize their means of production.”

Of the 28 arrested, 15 suspects are to be reported to Procurator Fiscal on charges under copyright and trademark legislation.

The BPI told us that the £10m estimate was based on the street value of the counterfeit goods - rather than a "loss of business" figure for the genuine article - and that a substantial percentage of the tally was for compressed MP3 CDs containing up to 10 albums each. The value of siezed equipment is not included. ®

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