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Software counterfeiter jailed for 15 months

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A man who made an estimated £54,000 a year selling counterfeit software through auction sites has been jailed for 15 months.

London-based Pakistani national Bilal Khan, 23, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday after he earlier pleaded guilty to five charges including possessing and selling counterfeit computer programmes and obtaining money by deception. He also asked for a further 11 offences of supplying counterfeit software to be taken into consideration in sentencing. He agreed to pay costs of £15,000 to Lewisham Council.

The case was brought to court following a lengthy joint investigation by Lewisham Council Trading Standards and the Business Software Alliance (BSA). In court, prosecutors said Khan was turning over £4,500 a month through his software piracy scam. In some cases he took people's money and failed to supply the software he offered through auction sites like eBay and QXL. Khan claimed that the software he was supplying - actually pirated Microsoft, Adobe and Macromedia packages - was genuine.

The severity of Khan's sentence reflects the fact that he had previously jumped bail. He fled to Pakistan when he was awaiting sentence after admitting to his crimes last year. In Pakistan, Khan continued his counterfeiting operation.

However he returned to the UK after eight months and was re-arrested on March 4 this year when he was re-arrested after police stopped him for a routine traffic offence.

Khan has spent the last four months in prison. ®

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