PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — One of the top online sellers of music CDs angry out to be bed-making money from gain he fabricated from a affected operation, according to federal investigators.
The ysis into Michael Hargreaves began in August 2014 aback the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations abstruse that Hargreaves was active an online business that was affairs and distributing affected music CDs.
The 60-year-old doubtable was active in the United Kingdom aback HSI abstruse about the investigation, according Brian Widener, the Assistant Appropriate Agent in Allegation of HSI in Oregon.
“For us, this is a antecedence area,” Widener said about affected investigation. “Following the money is one of the affidavit why we got involved.”
Initially, agents didn’t apperceive Hargreaves’ accurate identity. Widener said Hargreaves was application the name “Martin Donald” as an alias to run the online abundance “Media Mine U.S.”
It was the Recording Industry Association of America that aboriginal apparent anomalies with Hargreaves’ online business. Application Amazon.com as a host site, agents bent “Media Mine U.S.” was announcement accurate CDs, but “high quality” affected CDs were actuality beatific to biting customers.
Widener said appropriate agents bent Hargreaves fabricated an estimated $2 actor affairs affected CDs.
“For us, that’s a abundant bulk of money that is absent acquirement to businesses in the U.S.,” Widener said.
When RIAA looked into the sales, they bent that Hargreaves was one of the top sellers of CDs on Amazon; however, he was not an accustomed distributor. Board abstruse that “Media Mine U.S.” had about 200 titles for auction on its website.
Investigators purchased several CDs from “Media Mine U.S.” and bent that every distinct one they purchased was counterfeit, admitting actuality advertised as real. Officials were able to actuate that Hargreaves awash an estimated 186,500 affected CDs on Amazon.com. Agents bent the arrangement had a all-around aftereffect because barter in Germany, France, Canada and the U.S. all bought affected CDs.
“From all apparent appearances, [Media Mine U.S ] was absolutely legitimate, but the botheration was [the CDs] were all affected and the money was not actuality filtered aback into a accustomed business,” Widener said.
The auction of affected CDs is accepting a damaging aftereffect on the music industry, according to Marcus Cohen, the Vice President of Anti-Piracy Field Investigations for the Recording Industry of America.
“What you accept to accumulate in apperception is that every acquirement that’s fabricated from this accurate actor is an act of customer fraud,” Cohen said. “Every dime from the auction from this defendant’s [website] would go to the defendant. Nothing went aback into the industry.”
In 1999, about the time aback NAPSTER was launched, the U.S. music industry saw sales of $14.7 billion, according to Cohen. Last year, in 2016, the U.S. music industry saw sales of $7.7 billion.
“When we attending at piracy as a whole, the appulse has basically been to cut the music industry in half,” Cohen said. “The accident is enormous.”
Agents abstruse that most, if not all of the CDs, Hargreaves was affairs had been purchased from suppliers in China. The music industry is anxious with the akin of able affected operations that are actuality conducted overseas.
“Not one dime of [counterfeit sales] goes aback into the accustomed industry, so all of the bodies who assignment abaft the scenes, as able-bodied as the artisan that’s there creating the work, do not get any advantage whatsoever for the auction of any affected good,” Cohen said.
Many of the CD accomplishment plants accept the adeptness to actualize replica CDs, CD cases and art assignment that is about identical to accurate CDs.
“[Media Mine U.S.] went to a lot of accomplishment to accomplish abiding that it was advised to abash the customer into assertive they were purchasing a accustomed item,” Cohen said.
According to Cohen, one of the misnomers is that concrete product, whether it be vinyl or CDs, is disappearing. However, in 2016, concrete artefact represented 22% of the music industry.
HSI agents abstruse that in March 2016 Hargreaves was traveling to Los Angeles. He was arrested aback his aeroplane affected bottomward at LAX.
On March 29, 2016 a admirable board accusable Hargreaves with a allegation of all-embracing money laundering. Hargreaves pled accusable on June 22, 2016.
Hargreaves was bedevilled to 2 years in federal bastille on Nov. 12, 2016 and was ordered to serve 3 years of supervised release.
Widener and Cohen both acicular out affected products, abnormally CDs, are actual difficult to spot.
For advertisement alarming products: Book a Report with the Customer Artefact Safety Commission
For bent action accompanying to drugs, medicines, aliment and added Aliment and Drug Administration adapted products: Report Doubtable Actionable Action to the FDA
For bent IP action online and added cybercrime, book a complaint with the FBI at the: Internet Crime Complaint Center
For all added federal bent activity, contact: Your Local FBI Office
Report doubtable bookish acreage rights violations to Homeland Security Investigations application the: HSI Tip Form
Report actionable barter action accompanying to bookish acreage rights contravention to U.S. Customs and Border Protection application the: CBP e-Allegations Form
Read added about these U.S. federal agencies and their bookish acreage administration efforts.
If you’re the victim of a counterfeit sale, see the FTC’s tips on “getting your money back.”
KOIN 6 News accomplished out to Amazon, but a agent said they do not animadversion on awaiting litigation. Aback a that the case adjoin Hargreaves is absolutely adjudicated, a agent never responded to our appeal for a statement.
Ed Robinson, the bent aegis advocate who represented Hargreaves, batten to KOIN 6 News on the buzz May 25 and said that Hargreaves has accustomed albatross for his actions. Robinson beneath to action any added advice about the case and said that already Hargreaves completes his bastille sentence, he would acknowledgment to the United Kingdom.
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