Scots busted in £3m MS piracy raid

Climax to six-month probe

Microsoft has busted a group of suspected Scottish software pirates and seized kit worth more than £3 million.

CID, Trading Standards and Microsoft swooped on five separate addresses in West Lothian last month. In a single day, the crack team recovered more than 7000 licenses and 1350 pieces of allegedly fake software - including "lots of bagged up CDs", Microsoft said. The booty, which included Windows 98, Office 2000 and NT Server, was worth between £3.3-3.5 million.

Both businesses and private houses were raided in Kinross, Blackburn, Livingston and Broxburn, in what Microsoft claimed was a record haul for the country. It seems Bonnie Scotland has become a "hotspot for counterfeit software activity", according to Microsoft anti-piracy manager Julia Phillpot.

She hailed the seizure as "a milestone in our battle against software theft".

West Lothian Trading Standards said it had been tracking the piracy operation for six months. The organisation is due to send a report to Scotland's procurator fiscal.

The names of the companies and individuals involved were not released, and Microsoft declined to comment on any arrests.

Earlier this year, the state of Florida jailed a man for two years for flogging bootleg software over the Internet. According to IDC, there are 840,000 Web sites selling counterfeit software. ®

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