Fast operation nets £7m of counterfeit software

The Federation Against Software Theft (Fast) has announced the seizure of over £7 million of counterfeit computer software in a series of weekend raids.

The raids were part of a nationwide campaign masterminded by Fast in conjunction with the police.

Officers from South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and Devon and Cornwall Constabularies helped to co-ordinate the raids alongside the action group.

At one address over 60 gold CD-ROMs were recovered together with firearms. One man was arrested and bailed pending further enquiries.

The operations are part of a concerted campaign over the past nine months to target the handful of top illegal CD duplication rings in the UK, thought to supply over 90 per cent of the gold CDs in existence. This underground piracy industry yields huge profits, working on the pyramid selling principle.

In the course of its investigations Fast has also uncovered a number of related serious offences ranging from forgery and deception to wide-scale pornography.

Geoff Webster, chief executive of Fast, said: "These rings are run by hardened professional criminals, intent on raising huge profits to plough back into further crime. They are not run by small-time individuals in their back bedroom.

"Crime like this should be seen in the same light as the violent gangs and drug dealers. Fortunately the courts are now agreeing on this, and we'll soon see the impact of legislation allowing confiscation of any proceeds made through software counterfeiting. The notion of software theft as a victimless crime is clearly outdated."