20 September 2021

Karate teacher jailed for selling counterfeit goods worth more than £500,000

20 September 2021

A karate teacher has been jailed for four years after selling fake DVDs and counterfeit foot care products.

Stephen Anthony Clarke Gostling, 56, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court for nine offences including running a fraudulent business which earned him more than £500,000, Southwark Borough Council said.

He pleaded guilty to all counts, which also included money laundering and offences relating to the distribution of counterfeit goods.

The court heard Gostling had used 22 eBay accounts, 28 PayPal accounts, and 31 bank accounts, which he set up using around 30 different names to run his business from home.

DVDs sold by Stephen Anthony Clarke Gostling (Southwark Council/PA) (PA Media)

He used the accounts to sell fake products and launder the proceeds for more than five years.

Southwark Council’s Trading Standards team identified Gostling in 2017, when they flagged one of his eBay accounts.

He was caught after anti-piracy investigators from the Film Content Protection Agency, working on behalf of the Film Distributors’ Association, made test purchases of a Batman V Superman DVD and a Harry Potter box set, and both were confirmed as counterfeit.

Southwark Trading Standards traced four addresses relating to Gostling from his PayPal and eBay accounts, including a self-storage unit in Beckenham, south London, and three nearby residential addresses in Penge and South Norwood.

They seized 2,823 fake DVDs, 633 fake Scholl pedicure rollers and several laptops from the addresses.

During his sentencing at the Inner London Crown Court, Mr Recorder Dawson told Gostling: “You were engaging in fraud to a significant level and only an immediate, custodial sentence is justified.”

Southwark Trading standards investigated four addresses linked to Gostling (Southwark Council/PA) (PA Media)

Darren Merrill, a councillor for Southwark Council, said that Gostling, of Birkbeck Road, Beckenham, “went to great lengths” to disguise his criminal activities.

He said: “This sentence should serve as a grave warning that the courts see DVD piracy and counterfeiting for what it is – fraud.

“It’s a fraud on customers and a fraud on our film industries, which makes a significant contribution to the UK economy.

“Gostling went to great lengths to disguise the fact he was making money from duping thousands of customers into buying dodgy DVDs.

“I am pleased that thanks to the investigative skills of our trading standards team, the business was halted and any profits he made are likely to be confiscated.”

Anyone wishing to report the sale of counterfeit goods can call Trading Standards or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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