Local News

Wilson Videos Found to be Impostor Entertainment

Posted August 6, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— They look like the real thing, and you might not notice anything wrong when you watch them. But the truth is, there are hundreds of thousands of bootleg videotapes out there. One of them may be sitting in your entertainment center. Dozens of the fake tapes are turning up in Wilson.

Authorities there have enlisted the help of Alcohol and Law Enforcement officials with their investigation. The bogus tapes aren't being sold in video stores, but in convenience marts. One of the store owners selling the tapes told police he didn't know he was doing anything wrong. Officers say everyone involved knew what they were doing-- breaking the law.

Carol Deans first heard about the fake tapes a few weeks ago. As they became more and more popular, her legitimate video sales suffered. Deans says she was told about the tapes by sales people. After looking around local stores, she was able to turn up some of the tapes herself. Once Deans found the tapes, she bought a few and turned them over to the authorities.

Police discovered low quality tapes covered in glossy slipcovers. They were allegedly sold in three convenience stores in Wilson. To the untrained eye, the tapes look pretty good, but the quality isn't even close.

Wilson detective Bryant Gibson says a legitimate tape can go from $60-$80. The tapes turned up don't appear to be of the same type quality.

The easiest thing to notice is the fact that many of the bootleg tapes aren't even available yet on video. Movies like "Men in Black" and "Air Force One" are still in theaters right now. They won't be released on video for another three months.

Deans says the fakes hurt everyone involved, but she understands the lure of money is a powerful incentive.

"If you can buy a $70 movie for $10..." Deans says. "...you're going to do it."

The people involved in the fake tape ring now face misdemeanor charges. Three convenience store owners are in Wilson. Police say the tapes were made in one of two ways: they were dubbed from one tape to another, or someone may have taken a small camcorder into a theater and taped movies directly from the screen.

The low quality videos are something the Motion Picture Association is glad to have off the streets.