Karate teacher jailed after selling counterfeit Harry Potter and Batman DVDs

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The Southwark Council Commercial Standards team first identified Gostling in 2017 when they found an eBay account believed to be selling counterfeit DVDs registered at an address on Shand Street in Bermondsey

Southwark Council led an investigation into which a south London karate teacher was jailed for selling thousands of counterfeit DVDs and foot care products.

Stephen Anthony Clarke Gostling was found to have sold the counterfeit DVDs and Scholl foot care products through 22 eBay accounts, 28 PayPal accounts and 31 bank accounts with more than 30 names. Southwark Council said he had made over £ 500,000 in sales in five years and ran his business from a self storage unit and three residential addresses.

Gostling of Birkbeck Road, Beckenham, was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday in the Inner London Crown Court after pleading guilty to nine offenses under the Fraud Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and Trade Marks Act. Mr. Recorder Dawson said, “You have committed significant amounts of fraud and only immediate imprisonment is warranted.”

The Southwark Council Commercial Standards team first identified Gostling in 2017 when they found an eBay account believed to be selling counterfeit DVDs registered at an address on Shand Street in Bermondsey. It turned out that Gostling was using a wrong address, but disgruntled customers had sent their counterfeit DVDs back there.

Investigators against piracy for the Film Distributors Association bought a Batman V Superman DVD and a Harry Potter box from Gostling for testing purposes. Upon discovering these were fake, Southwark’s commercial standards team received Gostling’s Penge address from their Bank.

Southwark Council, police and Bromley and Croydon Council teams searched Gostling’s four addresses in March 2018 and confiscated 615 counterfeit DVDs from the self-storage unit and 633 counterfeit Scholl pedicure rolls. They also found 2,208 DVDs and several laptops at his home address.

Cllr Darren Merrill, Southwark Cabinet Member for Safer, Cleaner District, said, “This ruling should serve as a stern warning that the courts see DVD piracy and counterfeiting for what it is – fraud. It is a fraud against customers and a fraud against our film industry that is a significant contributor to the UK economy.

“Gostling went to great lengths to cover up the fact that he was making money getting thousands of customers to buy dubious DVDs. I am pleased that thanks to the investigative skills of our trading standards team, the business has been shut down and any profits it has made are likely to be confiscated. “

Anyone wishing to report the sale of counterfeit goods can tell Trading Standards confidentially or report it through Crimestoppers’ secure and anonymous service: 0800 555 111.


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