A raid at a house in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire has resulted in the prosecution of a man who has allegedly been making money through modifying consoles using circumvention devices, also known as ‘chipping’. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was targeted for being one of the top ‘chippers’ in the UK.
The warrant for the raid under powers provided by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 was carried out in January by plain clothes officers from Staffordshire County Council Trading Standards in partnership with Staffordshire Police at a trade premises. The building had proven difficult to gain entry to due to there being no obvious entrance.
A large quantity of video game console circumnavigation devices (‘chips’) were recovered together with 20 Microsoft Xbox 360 and four Nintendo Wii consoles. This had followed months of investigations by Staffordshire Trading Standards and several test purchases undertaken by ELSPA (the Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) IP Crime Unit investigators. One of the test purchase involved sending off a regular Xbox 360 to be chipped and the other the purchase of a pre-chipped Wii.
Besides the consoles, 200 chips and two PCs were also seized and forwarded to ELSPA experts for forensic examination.
The man was arrested and taken to police stations in Stoke-on Trent where he assisted the police with further enquiries. A POCA (Proceeds Of Crime Act) investigation has already started to estimate the criminal gain from his illegal activities. The man has been bailed to appear before Staffordshire police at a later date.
Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA said: This raid came as a result of a thorough and professional investigation by Staffordshire Trading Standards department and ELSPA investigators and proves that increasing numbers of games criminals are paying the price for pursuing illegal chipping business activities.
Brandon Cook, Head of Fraud & Community Safety for Staffordshire County Council, added: This operation has been a great success and will send a message out to others that illegal chipping and counterfeiting will be investigated and offenders prosecuted. The purchase of counterfeit games affects genuine local businesses and the economy as well as proven links to serious organised crime. You can report suspected counterfeiters and sellers anonymously on 01785 330 356.