The box that arrived at the U.S. Customs office in Anchorage, Alaska, from Bangkok, Thailand late last month was marked “22 DVDs.”
But the box – addressed to a Boca Raton address — weighed 13 pounds.
When suspicious customs officials opened it, they found 510 counterfeit DVD movies inside. And they called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
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On Wednesday, an undercover sheriff’s deputy dressed as a Federal Express driver delivered the package to a house in the Mission Bay development, police said. A man signed for the package and took it inside.
Minutes later, officers went into the house and arrested Elliot Sinofsky, 55, of 10418 Lake Vista Circle, Boca Raton, charging him with possession of counterfeit DVD movies.
“In an upstairs bedroom, we found 3,000 to 4,000 counterfeit DVD movies,” said Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ronald Tomassi.
The detective said it took 10 officers three hours to “seize all the property in the house,” which he said was strewn with videodiscs, invoices and order forms.
The box of 510 discs – for which Sinofsky reportedly paid $196 – had a retail value of $10,000, the detective said.
“This is just one guy – with one box,” said Tomassi. “It happens all over the world.”
Film piracy cuts about a billion dollars a year from the film industry, said the sheriff’s detective, who has been in touch with the Motion Picture Association of America.
According to Tomassi, the suspect was allegedly selling fake DVDs on the Internet and on Ebay. Orders had come in from all over the nation – and the world, the officer said.
One order from a man in Pakistan was for 120 movies on disc.
Tomassi said Sinofsky was allegedly dealing in recently released American films as well as pornographic movies.
In addition to the DVDs, officers reportedly found packaging equipment systems, shrink wrap, labels, plastic DVD containers and computers “all used to enhance this operation.”
The lead detective said that Sinofsky confessed to conducting the piracy operation, claiming he had suffered leg injuries in a car accident several years ago and said he was unable to get a job.
Tomassi said the man limped badly and had difficulty walking.
He said Sinofsky, who turns 56 later this month, is married and has a college-age son who came home in the middle of his father’s arrest.
Sinofsky, the detective said, faces two felony counts – and may also be charged with federal law violations.
One of the charges leveled against Sinofsky Wednesday was possession of counterfeit DVDs. Tomassi said the suspect had neither a security code nor a U.S. copyright logo, which are required of legitimate sellers of DVDs.
The other felony count, the detective said, was possession of counterfeit labels for the movies.
Tomassi listed such titles as “Scarface,” “Phone Booth,” “Gangs of New York” and Walt Disney films among the faked DVDs.
He said the counterfeits were not of the same quality as legitimate DVDs, and the labels also had an amateurish look.
Sinofsky is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail.