Feeds

11 charged over 'biggest-ever' MS piracy bust

Operation Digital Marauder

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Eleven people from across the US were indicted on Wednesday over alleged software piracy offences following the largest seizure of counterfeit Microsoft software to date.

FBI officers seized $80m worth of pirate Microsoft software in series of raids last month following a two-year investigation into a US-wide software piracy ring. Pirated Adobe and Symantec software worth an estimated $7m was also recovered during ‘Operation Digital Marauder' which involved the execution of three search warrants and the arrest of 11 individuals in California, Washington and Texas.

The suspects were allegedly responsible for a wide variety of software piracy operations, including unauthorised media replication, printing of counterfeit documentation and distribution of counterfeit software. Pirated copies of packages including Microsoft Office, Windows Server and SQL Server were allegedly produced on an industrial scale by the gang.

The indicted defendants, including Tobias Grace, 30, of Vancouver, Washington, and Sanh Thai of Los Angeles, California, allegedly set up a counterfeit replication site in the Los Angeles area, where they produced counterfeit Adobe and Symantec CDs. This replication site was raided by the FBI's Los Angeles office in April 2004, and equipment was seized.

Grace and Thai allegedly contacted a San Francisco printer, Thanh Tuong, who is accused of printing counterfeit documentation for Microsoft server products and other software products on their behalf. These documents were then allegedly delivered to a number of customers, including Arnica Grace, Tobias Grace's sister, in Austin, Texas, for distribution.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that Microsoft became aware of the scam around three years ago, when purchasers of the counterfeit software asked for technical support, only to be told they'd purchased pirated goods. Company investigators assisted the FBI in its investigation. An undercover operative who acted as a middleman in transactions was instrumental in breaking the case, the paper reports.

Tobias Grace was named in an earlier indictment alleging that he illegally obtained software from Microsoft employees who abused Microsoft's internal ordering systems to obtain the products for virtually nothing. No connection was made to Microsoft's internal ordering system in the latest indictment, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.

The 11 suspects are due for arraignment on Monday 20 September in Los Angeles on various charges that carry maximum sentences of between 15 to 75 years on conviction. ®

Related stories

German MS counterfeiters sent to jail
DrinkorDie suspect to be 'extradited to US'
Ex-MS worker jailed for black market racket
MS staffer pleads guilty to $6m software racket
MS worker ran $17m software racket
Insiders finger MS Shop as source of resale racket
Software pirates cost $9.7bn in Europe - BSA

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.