Following significant activity by the FBI in the U.S. regarding PC and console piracy, the UK’s ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association) has announced that a 40 year old Birmingham woman has been arrested for importing counterfeit Game Boy Advance cartridges and selling them on eBay.
Although piracy on other formats is rare on eBay, Game Boy Advance cartridges, usually imported from the Far East, are often convincing facsimiles of the official product, and many buyers do not realize they are pirated even after receiving them. One observant user did recognize them as frauds, though, and reported the seller to eBay.
ELSPA's Internet investigator subsequently made a series of test purchases from the seller's eBay page, working closely with Birmingham City Council Trading Standards. Trading Standards officers, assisted by ELSPA, searched her house in Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham to reveal a substantial number of counterfeit cartridges, the majority of which were Nintendo titles. Records showed she had conducted almost 400 transactions over a period of twelve months.
Michael Rawlinson, deputy director general of ELSPA commented: "Counterfeiters believe that the numerous Internet auction sites today offer a completely immune route to market for the illegal sale of counterfeit and pirated products – this is not the case. Sites such as eBay have stringent policies on illegal trading and cooperate fully with authorities to ensure these are enforced. ELSPA is grateful to Birmingham City Council Trading Standards for their hard work in this investigation."
The seller had been importing the counterfeit cartridges from Hong Kong, bringing them into the country through Coventry airport and offering them for between £10 to £25 ($18 to $44) – much more than pirated games normally cost. The woman is reported to have made a full and frank admission when interviewed.