Businesses warned of online software pirates

Businesses have been warned to exercise caution when buying software over the internet after an online software pirate was...

Businesses have been warned to exercise caution when buying software over the internet after an online software pirate was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

London-based Bilal Khan, 23, used a network of websites and auction sites along with a string of aliases to dupe customers with his counterfeit copies, in a racket that is believed to have netted him at least £4,500 a month.

As well as supplying his customers with pirated software, Khan also withheld orders. He was sentenced on 4 July following a three-year investigation by Lewisham Trading Standards and the Business Software Alliance.

A spokeswoman for the BSA said the case was particularly bad because the copies looked very much like the genuine article in terms of price. "This is a case where customers could be easily fooled," she said, adding that users should "do their homework and be careful where they buy from".

"If the price looks too good to be true it probably is," she said. "We want to make sure the internet is a safe and legal environment for users to buy software in."

Khan was originally tried for the offences at Greenwich Crown Court, following a raid on his house in 2000, but he jumped bail and fled to Pakistan. He was re-arrested on a visit to England.

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