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Pastor & disciple mastermind Australia's biggest piracy scam

Fistful of dollars: Allison Daniel’s Facebook post.
Fistful of dollars: Allison Daniel’s Facebook post.

HE WAS her church pastor and controller, she was his "disciple" and called him "father" and together they pulled off Australia's largest piracy fraud worth $21 million.

Mosaic Defredes, 40, a minister at the Blacktown Christian City Church and his "daughter" Allison Daniel, 32, operated an international counterfeit DVD empire from western Sydney.

Hidden-in-plain-sight inside suburban Sydney storage units over several years, the pair ran one of Australia's most sophisticated criminal rackets.

Using the online accounts "Giftotorium" and "mad.dvd.dealz" on eBay, Daniel and Defredes sold more than 65,000 DVDS they stole or had made in China.

The Australian Screen Association estimates the DVDs equated $21m in retails sales on top of the $1.6 million the pair earned on eBay.

The sophisticated criminal syndicate used multiple names, residential and business addresses, and post office boxes to import Quality Counterfeit "Region 4" DVDs.

And to get fresh copies of new movies and TV titles to send to their counterfeiter, Defredes would send Daniel out on mass shoplifting expeditions around the country.

Allison Daniel operated Australia's largest piracy racket worth $21m with her church pastor Mosaic Defredes in western Sydney. Picture: Facebook.
Allison Daniel operated Australia's largest piracy racket worth $21m with her church pastor Mosaic Defredes in western Sydney. Picture: Facebook.

Daniel, a member of Defredes' Blacktown church "Jesus Freaks" youth group, would text him from inside Big W, Target or Kmart when she was about to steal with the code "Plz pray".

When store detectives occasionally caught her, Defredes would write to the court saying "as a Man of God and Honest Citizen I totally condemn this act" and plead for her "pardon".

When NSW police raided the Blacktown storage unit and Kings Park warehouse and Defredes' Marayong home in April 2013, they uncovered the largest seizure of pirated material in Australia.

The hundreds of titles they stole included Desperate Housewives, Underbelly Razor, Big Bang Theory, The Incredibles and Revenge Season.

Last week, Allison Daniel and Mosaic Defredes faced a NSW District Court sentencing hearing.

Defredes, on remand in prison, sat calmly in the dock of the court, while Daniel, who is on bail, chatted with her boyfriend and supporters.

Daniel and Defredes have pleaded guilty to copyright piracy charges which have a maximum penalty of five years' prison.

The massive illegal counterfeit DVD operation was hidden in several storage facilities in western Sydney including this Kings Park warehouse. Picture: NSW Police.
The massive illegal counterfeit DVD operation was hidden in several storage facilities in western Sydney including this Kings Park warehouse. Picture: NSW Police.

The court was told both have pleaded to possession of infringing copies of films and television program with intent to sell, and the joint commission of conduct resulting in the sale of such copies on a commercial scale.

Daniel also pleaded guilty to attempting to dishonestly obtain an Australian passport in the name of Paul Ryan for Mosaic Defredes between late 2015 and early 2016.

The offence also took into account the use of a Medicare card, bank card, driver's licence and Australian pensioner card in the name of Paul Ryan.

Defredes also pleaded guilty to making a false statement in regard to an Australian passport document, taking into account the use of documents in the name of Paul Ryan.

Daniel's barrister told the court that his client had character references from the Blacktown Christian City Church pastor and psychiatrist's reports.

At one point during the sentencing hearing, Daniel turned to wink at her friends in the back of the court.

On her Facebook page, Daniel has dozens of posts about Jesus, God and forgiveness.

Police seized 1.3m discs at Kings Park (above), 95,000 discs at Blacktown and more at Defredes’ home worth $21 million if sold. Picture: NSW Police.
Police seized 1.3m discs at Kings Park (above), 95,000 discs at Blacktown and more at Defredes’ home worth $21 million if sold. Picture: NSW Police.

She also posted 12 photographs of DVDs for sale in January and a fistful of $50 notes.

A NSW Police statement of facts tendered to the court showed that criminal enterprise began to unravel when Australian Customs detected hundreds of DVDs addressed to Defredes arriving from China.

Many of the DVDs were badly cut copies in obviously, poorly produced covers.

But when the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) offered to let Defredes off with a hefty fine, he named Daniel as seller of the DVDs.

Defredes, who also owns businesses called Freaks Marketing and Goan Amigos, met Daniel at the Blacktown church in 2007.

In 2008, he started up Jesus Freaks, advertised as a club "to help youths stay out of trouble".

Daniel moved in with Defredes and his wife calling them "mother" and "father" and used the name "Grace Defredes".

Defredes described her as his "disciple" and in daily emails and texts, Defredes would urge Daniels "to be obedient and accept his and his wife's authority".

In texts on Daniel's phone, later seized by police, she would ask his permission on how she spent her money, who she associated with and her approach to social situations and religious issues.

On August 4, 2012 Defredes texted Daniel writing, "I thought u asked me permission to go out today. I don't remember giving u one but u still went ... guess that's your perfect type of submission".

Allison Daniel posted 12 picture son Facebook in January saying she was selling her DVDs. Picture: Facebook.
Allison Daniel posted 12 picture son Facebook in January saying she was selling her DVDs. Picture: Facebook.

In one text to Defredes while on a shoplifting "run" interstate, Daniel asked permission to buy a jumper because she'd forgot to pack one.

On February 20, 2013 she texted "Can I plz buy water?".

Defredes replied: "OK where r u??? I don't wants any more lies and deceit."

Between June 2009 and January 2010, Australian Customs intercepted 24 parcels containing 400 DVDs addressed to Defredes and Daniel.

When AFACT lawyers threatened possible civil action, Defredes said he had been selling them for his friend, Allison Daniel.

Daniel wrote to AFACT saying she had asked Defredes "my pastor" to help her "sell things ... to raise money for my daily struggling living".

In January 2010, AFACT agreed to reduce damages to $7500 if Daniel and Defredes signed an undertaking to desist importing, making and selling the bootleg DVDs.

In 2011 and 2012, Daniel and Defredes engaged in a separate scheme to steal legitimate DVDs from retail stores to sell on eBay and have pirate copies made in China.

Defredes sent Daniel on multiple "runs" on a particular day, designating the store by letter: "K" for Kmart, "T" for Target and "B" for Big W.

After texting him "Plz pray", she would pile DVDs into a box or rubbish bin that was for sale, and buy that item only.

Defredes would text his approval or disapproval, and advice for avoiding detection and maximising the number of stores robbed.

On July 18, 2012 she texted him a detailed list of the 101 DVDs she had just stolen interstate which included "36 x 21 Jump Street, 8x Carter and 8 x questions for ben ..."

Defredes texted back "Can't u send more John Carter???".

Eight days later she texted him "I did the total ... total is 5080 ... shocking news is we only completed 6 runs not 7".

The next day Defredes sent Daniel a list of seven Melbourne stores to rob, with strict instructions.

"U will leave ur room at 8.30 SHARP. And commence the run at 9.30 COZ we want a big day tomorrow."

In July 2013, Defredes chastised Daniel for not robbing more stores.

"Really wow didn't even go an extra mile to find another one. Great so if I don't tell

u anything u won't do anything. U have been with me for so long so should have learnt something."

Daniel was caught and convicted several times for shoplifting, but the criminal enterprise with Defredes remained secret.

His character reference describing himself as an honest "Man of God" came after Daniel's arrest in a Brisbane Kmart.

But when store detectives followed her on a run at Target in Glendale in western Sydney and then in Kotara near Newcastle, Defredes disowned her.

Despite the fact she was driving his wife's car, he told police "I don't know anyone by the name of Allison Daniel".

In February 2013, AFACT began investigating significantly discounted DVDs by Giftotorium and mad.dvd.dealz on eBay.

Police swooped on April 4, 2013 and found 1.3m discs at Kings Park, 95,000 discs at Blacktown and more at Defredes' home.

Officers also discovered computers, company records, artwork and promotional inserts, a shrink wrapping machine, and more than $20,000 in cash and gift cards.

Detectives found emails between Defredes and his China counterfeiter "Gavin".

They revealed Defredes' frequent anger at the poor quality of the bootleg copies.

"I Am Not Happy Pirates of the Caribbean Is Bad Cut," he wrote in July 2012.

"I have more than 150 Downton Abbey thrown like crap in my warehouse because all have a bloody problem with them. All the covers of Sanctuary 3 So Bloody Crap."

In another email he wrote, "Really Really Mad ... What Is This Bullshit Mate???"

Defredes also complained about "blurry" DVD covers and ordered Gavin to redo copies he "cannot sell" because they were cut on "D5" format rather than dual layer or D9 discs.

He wrote "this is not small business. $400,000 business in 4 months is BIG BUSINESS".

By late 2012, Defredes was getting worried that the volume of packages from China would alert authorities to the scam.

But he and Daniel continued on, employing improved packaging and stickers to assume the products' authenticity.

Defredes hired a waitress he and his wife met at an Indian restaurant to send DVDs to customers.

She estimated up to 500 parcels were posted daily.

Daniel, who called herself "the manager" at the Kings Park warehouse sold the DVDs for between $10 and $25.

Bail was continued to Daniel in the District Court until March 31, when she had Defredes will be sentenced.

Australian Screen Association director Neil Gane said stopping this large-scale counterfeit ring in its tracks was huge win in the war against piracy.

"The extent of the alleged criminal activity conducted by this operation was quite remarkable. Not a cent of the hefty illegal profits made by those involved in this counterfeit syndicate goes back to the actors, creators and copyright holders, and it doesn't stop there: local community retail businesses and online distribution platforms also suffer from lost business, and jobs are put at risk.

"The outstanding work by NSW Police sends an unambiguous message to people involved in copyright theft: that they will be investigated, charged, and brought to trial."

News Corp Australia

Topics:  blacktown christian church editors picks piracy sydney


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