Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Proceeds of Crime Used to Support Staffordshire.

By Ben Aulakh

A Staffordshire woman who made £80,000 from selling counterfeit DVDs has been ordered to pay back £20,756 of her illegal earnings.

Lisa Bramwell, of Liberty Park, Stafford was ordered to pay back the money under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002.

Under the legislation some of the money given will go to the local authorities so it can be used to improve communities in the area.

Appearing at Stafford Crown Court on Friday May 7, the woman was told she now has six months to pay back the money or face a custodial sentence.

It is the first time that Staffordshire County Council has used the act in conjunction with its own financial investigations officer - meaning it can apply to confiscate money made from crime.

The council applied to have the money paid back after Miss Bramwell pleaded guilty to possessing and selling the counterfeit DVDs on November 4 last year; she was given an 18-month suspended sentence.

Trading Standards Manager Brandon Cook said the council's use of the Proceeds of Crime Act sent out a stark warning to people who made money from crime.

He said: "This case - the first of its kind for the county council - shows that we will pursue those who have made money through criminal activities to reclaim it.

Miss Bramwell set up an online business to sell the DVDs, which had been imported from the Far East, discs bought for $3 were sold for £5 via internet payment systems, cheque or postal order.

By doing this she was able to undercut legitimate traders; the usual price of a recently released film on DVD would be anywhere between £10 and £20.

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