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Console games 'hack' reseller gets community service order

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A Leicestershire-based computer reseller who modified video games consoles to run pirated games has been sentenced to a lengthy spell of community service.

Thomas Norwood, 40, a director of Modchip Fitters, pleaded guilty to importation and sale of electronic cards that circumvented anti-piracy controls on Nintendo Wiis, Microsoft Xboxes and other consoles back in November. At a sentencing hearing last week he received a 12-month community service order. A two-month nighttime curfew was also imposed on Norwood, who still faces a proceeds of crime hearing.

Norwood operated a website selling the console mod chips that made hundreds of sales to customers in the UK and elsewhere before his activities came to the attention of Leicestershire Trading Standards Service, which launched an investigation. Trading standards officers obtained a court order during 2008 and carried out a raid, which resulted in the seizure of software and hardware valued at £60,000.

Gamers who pay for illicit console modification kit are likely to end up the loser, Leicestershire Trading Standards warns.

David Bull, Head of Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards Service, commented: "Consumers who have had their games consoles chipped, modified or flashed are likely to have their game's consoles disabled without notice when they operate it online as a result of legitimate action taken by the equipment manufacturers."

Bull added: "This type of crime is becoming more common and is a serious threat to legitimate businesses." ®

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