FBI cracks multimillion-dollar software piracy ring

Eleven people have been charged in the US in connection with a two year investigation into software piracy.

Eleven people have been charged in the US in connection with a two year investigation into software piracy.

After one of the largest seizures of fake software ever in the US the defendants, from California, Washington and Texas, have been charged with conspiring to distribute counterfeit computer software and documentation with a retail value of more than $30m (£16.7m).

The value could rise to $87m as, when searching the defendants' homes, offices and storage facilities, FBI agents stumbled upon an additional stockpile of more than $56m worth of fake Microsoft, Symantec and Adobe products.

Investigators also seized CD copying and printing equipment.

Most of the haul was fake Microsoft products with a total street value of about $80m.

It is the largest ever seizure of fake Microsoft products, the company said. Microsoft worked closely with the authorities on the case.

The defendants are scheduled to appear on 20 September. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of between 15 and 75 years in federal prison.

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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