CD fraudster avoids jail term

A FATHER-OF-THREE labelled a “crook, a conman, a cheat and a fraud” has escaped a prison sentence after he admitted swindling £30,000 by selling bogus “limited edition” CDs over the internet.

A FATHER-OF-THREE labelled a “crook, a conman, a cheat and a fraud” has escaped a prison sentence after he admitted swindling £30,000 by selling bogus “limited edition” CDs over the internet.

Judge David Goodin said Simon Sherring spent 18-months preying on “vulnerable enthusiasts” who were willing to believe they had purchased rare and collectable records.

Sherring, 35, of Gainsborough Street, Sudbury, was at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced for offences under the Trade and Descriptions Act 1968.

He had previously pleaded guilty to pirating thousands of pounds worth of rare music between September 2002 and March 2004.

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David Groome, prosecuting, told the court how Sherring, who is married with three children aged 12, seven and 18-months, traded on the internet using four websites - DJs Heaven, Simon's Little Shop, Harvey's House and Record Collector Man.

Mr Groome said the defendant would advertise rare and limited edition promotional CDs on the sites selling them to collectors and enthusiasts as the “genuine article.”

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In reality all he would do is copy tracks - ones that had either been downloaded illegally from the internet, recorded from genuine albums or recorded live at various concerts - onto a blank CD worth 30p, he said.

Collectors, believing the CD to be legitimate, would then pay anything between £19 and £90 for it to be sent to them.

However when the record arrived it would become clear it was anything but genuine as there was no official artwork and it was of poor sound quality, Mr Groome said.

Following a number of complaints Trading Standards in Suffolk made a test purchase from DJs Heaven in February 2004 which led to a raid on the defendant's house a month later.

As a result officers seized hundreds of fake CDs and a production line of equipment including five PC base units and a CD labelling machine.

Mitigating, Matthew McNiff said Sherring was of previous good character and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

He said the financial situation of his family was “dire” and that the money generated through the sale of the bogus CDs was not to fund a lavish lifestyle but “simply to live”.

Sentencing Sherring to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Goodin said: “You have spent the thick end of 18 months preying on vulnerable enthusiasts.

“You advertised something that you didn't have to reel them in and over the course of that time were up by about £30,000. That makes you are a crook, a conman, a cheat and a fraud.”

Sherring was also ordered to forfeit the equipment used as part of his illegal operation but was not told to pay compensation or court costs.

Speaking after the case Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for public protection, said: “The sentence recognises that illegal businesses like these are not a sideline run by loveable rogues.

“This crime provided an income of thousands of pounds to Mr Sherring and the sentence serves to show that crime doesn't pay.

“Counterfeiters like these are an integral part of the black economy and their crimes hit local business hard.”

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