7:10am Sunday 11th November 2012
By Chris Baynes
A video game fraudster who cheated Nintendo out of a potential £12 million in a "complex and sophisticated operation" has been jailed for 32 months.
Justin Success-Brooks, 41, pocketed £600,000 in just two years by selling counterfeit computer games through his 18 homemade websites.
Success-Brooks, of Foxley Lane, Purley, sold thousands of games cartridges for Nintendo's DS and DSi handheld consoles including a "very substantial" trade with buyers in China, Croydon Crown Court was told.
He was sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to seven counts of fraud last month.
The father-of-one offered bundles of counterfeit games, fitted with microchips that bypassed the consoles' security systems, at a fraction of the price they would have cost from legitimate retailers.
In one instance he sold 75 children's games worth a total of £1,368 for £39.95.
He ignored cease-and-desist letters from from the games company and the UK Border Agency and even launched new websites under different names after police seized his stock.
Francesca Levett, prosecuting, said Success-Brooks had perpetrated an "extensive and skilfully planned fraud" that had cheated Nintendo, genuine retailers and shoppers who thought they were buying legitimate games.
In one instance, she said, a six-year-old had been deprived of a Christmas present because their parent had realised the cartridge was counterfeit and did not want to be involved in criminality.
Ms Levett added: "This was very much a proper operation. This is not like someone selling games at a market. Nintendo may be big enough to weather the storm but retailers are not.
She added: "The damage that this has done to the reputation of online retailers is untold and incalculable."
Gary Venturi, defendiong Mr Brooks, said that the majority of Success-Brooks's customers had not been "hoodwinked" and were deliberately buying counterfeit games to save money.
He said: "If you read forums, for every person complaining about the sale of illegal games there are four or five complaining about the price of legitimate games."
Mr Success-Brooks's crime was no worse than advertising counterfeit games in a newspaper, Mr Venturi argued.
He added: "He was taking a risk not on the understanding that what he was doing was criminal but on the understanding that he could be sued. It is theft at the heart of this, rather than complex fraud."
But recorder Mark West rejected the notion that Mr Success-Brooks, who pleaded guilty to seven counts of fraud last month, had not realised that what he was doing was illegal.
He said: "Between early 2009 and June 2011 you carried out a complex and sophisticated operation involving the use of trademarks and the sale of counterfeit games. You knew what you were doing was illegal and used various names and various addresses."
He sentenced Mr Success-Brooks to a total of 32 months in jail and told him to expect to serve half of that time.
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