Computer fraudster faces jail

A FRAUDSTER who made thousands of pounds profit selling fake computer disks over the internet is facing a jail term today.

Helen Skene

A FRAUDSTER who made thousands of pounds profit selling fake computer disks over the internet is facing a jail term today.

Fifty-eight-year-old Valerie Lindsey ignored copyright laws and offered expensive computer software packages at vastly knocked-down prices through her dodgy internet business.

A judge has now warned her she could be jailed after she pocketed thousands before trading standards officers infiltrated her illegal dealings.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court heard Lindsey got up at 4am each day to check her e-mails to see how many software disks she had sold.

Michael Stephenson, for Lindsey, said his client was addicted to the internet auction site eBay and that logging on so early each morning was “not normal behaviour”.

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Ian de Prez, prosecuting, said Lindsey, of Nacton Road, Felixstowe, told officers she had sold about 100 counterfeit disks each month for two years.

Every disk sold for between £20 and £30 would have cost buyers between £800 and £900 if bought legitimately.

Lindsey, who was not claiming benefits at the time but currently receives disability living allowance, pleaded guilty to 24 counts of infringing copyright laws and applying false trademarks.

The court heard yesterday she believed buyers must have known the disks were fake.

Mr Stephenson said: “She was not deliberately selling these as genuine articles and it must have been obvious these were counterfeit.

“She was not putting up the pretence they were real, she was selling to people who were happy to buy pirated copies.”

Mr de Prez said that trading standards officers made three attempts to make test purchases from Lindsey's eBay site on August 22, 2007.

The same day officers seized 873 fake disks from her home, items which would have had a genuine retail value of around £694,000.

Mr Stephenson said the profit Lindsey had made was in the region of £13,000 and not the £32,000 trading standards alleged she would have made over two years.

District Judge David Cooper asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared to assist with sentencing on September 1.

He said: “You should prepare yourself for a custodial sentence or for the case to be committed to Crown court. It is not 100 per cent but a probability.”

Jill Korwin, assistant county standards trading officer, said: “This sort of illegal activity prevents honest businesses from making a fair living.

“The message that we want to send out to anyone who thinks they can make quick money selling fake goods on eBay is don't be tempted because we will pursue you and when we catch you the punishments are very severe, often resulting in prison sentences. “We are determined to take action and put a stop to the sale of fake goods in Suffolk whenever we can.”

Lindsey was released from court on unconditional bail.