Authorities today (March 16) completed what has been described as the biggest-ever crackdown on counterfeiters and benefit fraudsters ever seen in Britain.

Authorities today (March 16) completed what has been described as the biggest-ever crackdown on counterfeiters and benefit fraudsters ever seen in Britain.

Twenty-nine people were arrested during a series of morning raids in the Liverpool, Sefton and Skelmersdale areas. Five major CD-duplication facilities were uncovered during the operation, which was the culmination of a six-month joint investigation involving the government and creative industries.

The Department for Work and Pensions conducted the sting in conjunction with labels trade body the British Phonographic Industry, film industry anti-piracy body the FACT and computer software body ELSPA.

More than 135 police, trading standards officers and investigators from the trade bodies took part.

According to a joint-statement issued today, suspects will for the first time face multiple criminal fraud charges collectively brought by the BPI, FACT and DWP. The suspects face having their illicit takings confiscated.

The government and the creative industries have pledged to increasingly tackle intellectual property theft and benefit fraud through this collaborative approach.

"By taking a multi-agency approach to tackle this growing problem, we can not only pool our intelligence and resources, but seek far stiffer penalties for those who profit at the expense of the creative industries and the taxpayer alike," BPI director of anti-piracy David Martin.

The BPI, FACT and ELSPA are members of the Alliance Against IP Theft (formerly the Alliance Against Counterfeiting and Piracy), a cross-industry body launched in 1999 to campaign for intellectual property protection on behalf of its members.

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