Feeds

MS Counterfeit gang gets ten years in jail

Big league pirates

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Three people have been jailed for a total of 10 years for their involvement in a multi-million pound software counterfeiting ring.

The trio, who were convicted on March 16 for conspiracy to defraud Microsoft, sat impassively in the dock as Her Honour Judge Pearlman, passed stiff sentences which reflected their involvement in a fraud that netted them an estimated £1.5 million.

"This was a conspiracy aggravated by the clever devices you used to deceive and the fact you continued the operation after being arrested," Judge Pearlman said. "You were all playing for high stakes."

The Judge sentenced the gang to sentences which she said reflected the serious nature of the offence, as well as acting as a deterrent to others. She also suggested that companies who suffered loses due to the counterfeit operation were likely to lose staff as a result. Among the gang's victims were St Albans City District Council in Hertfordshire which unwittingly bought thousands of pounds of software from the counterfeiters.

The gang's mastermind, married father-of-three Sikander Qureshi, 55, of Stanmore, north London was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for conspiracy to defraud. Zafar Ahmed, 40, from East Ham in east London was sentenced to two-and-a-half years for the same offence, with half his sentence suspended.

Shaheen Parveen, 42, from Kingsbury, north west London received a four year jail term for fraud with 3 months to be served concurrently for attempting to pervert the course of justice. Her brother Babar Manzoor, 25, jumped bail before fleeing to his native Pakistan.

Investigators stumbled onto the gang's activities after Customs officers at Heathrow got a lucky break and intercepted a package full of fake MS software, sent from a business address in Thailand to Qureshi's accountancy firm in Shoreditch High Street, London.

The parcel was sent to Qureshi but when it arrived Hackney trading standards team swooped and grabbed counterfeit software CDs, and a shrink-wrapping machine. The National Crime Squad joined in the investigation and caught the team on CCTV camera visiting their lock-up.

Raids on the Ahmed's and Parveen's homes and the storage units revealed an Aladdin's cave of counterfeiting material. Thousands of counterfeit CDs, various packaging material and Microsoft authenticity certificates - which had been stolen by armed raiders from a printing factory in Scotland, were recovered.

Various companies had been set up by the gang to market and sell the fake software, but these not be linked to the operation's ringleader Qureshi, who claimed in court to be a good friend of the husband of Pakistan's deposed leader Benazir Bhutto (Asif Ali Zardari). His wife appears on the Asian TV station ZTV.

Even after the gang was first arrested at the end of 1998 they still tried to carry on their illegal operation but this only resulted in them been arrested again and the confiscation of more evidence by police.

Qureshi and Parveen had been held in custody after breaking bail restrictions. Police caught them hiding in a wardrobe at Parveen's house.

Bank records suggest the gang made more than £1.5 million in profits but only £96,000 in cash was ever recovered. ®

Related stories:
Major UK software pirates found guilty

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
'Speargun' program is fantasy, says cable operator
We just might notice if you cut our cables
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.