The two-year prison term earned by disgraced Brisbane PC dealer Greg Heilbron, confirmed this month, may be the stiffest sentence of its type seen in Queensland.
However it won't shock the State's reseller community into cleaning up its act, predicts a reseller who has tried to rouse the Queensland industry against abuses committed by its members.
"Fraud, rebadging and tax evasion are so widespread here that there is no hope of any voluntary organisation ever effectively policing it," said reseller Doug Smith.
Heilbron, founder of the now-defunct dealership Dataquip, was judged guilty of improper use of his position with intent to defraud. His two-year sentence permits him to be released on recognisance after nine months. He is serving a concurrent nine-month term on a second charge of failing to make financial records available to investigators.
During the four years Dataquip operated, it conservatively turned over $40 million, which industry observers claim could open the door for avoiding at least $10 million in sales tax.
Doug Smith labelled Heilbron's conviction "a non-event" in terms of acting as a deterrent to others. About 18 months ago, Smith launched Queensland Computer Trader, a magazine that pushed for the establishment of a dealer association; however, he found so little support for the concept he was forced to close the magazine after seven months.
One supporter was Techmart CEO Ray Shaw, who was recently threatened with physical violence after helping expose the sales of over-clocked Intel CPUs. Shaw also doesn't believe Qld's reseller industry has the ability to police itself. Even if it did, transgressors would simply remain outside any trade organisation where little pressure could be brought to bear on them, he suggests.
Counterfeit components and tax evasion remain rife because the reseller community "sees it as a game, not a crime", Shaw says.
Smith is turning to the Internet to blow the whistle on offending resellers. His Web site (www.netkiosk.com.au) includes a Buyers Beware section that names local dealers Smith claims are selling rebadged or faulty components in their systems. Although some of his targets have threatened him with legal action, until now he has not been taken to court.