Microsoft fraudsters sent down for 10 years

Three people have today been jailed for their part in a multi-million pound software counterfeit scam.

Three people have today been jailed for their part in a multi-million pound software counterfeit scam.

The trio, who were convicted on 16 March, were sentenced for a total of 10 years in the Old Bailey this afternoon.

The gang's leader, father-of-three Sikander Qureshi, 55, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud Microsoft, along with Shaheen Parveen, 42, and father-of-one Zafar Ahmed, 40.

Parveen's brother, Babar Manzoor, 25, was also convicted in March, but jumped bail before fleeing to his native Pakistan.

The fraudsters were caught following a fluke discovery by a customs officer in Heathrow who intercepted a package sent from a business address in Thailand.

The package contained hundreds of counterfeit Microsoft CDs and was destined for Qureshi's east London accountancy practice.

Customs re-packaged the goods and sent them on to the practice, where Hackney Council trading standards officers were waiting.

As soon as the package had been delivered, the officers swooped on the building. They found a shrink-wrapping machine, counterfeit software and cellophane.

Qureshi, Parveen and Ahmed were later observed on CCTV visiting various storage premises across London, where they had hidden other imported counterfeit software.

Thousands of counterfeit CDs, various packaging materials and Microsoft authenticity certificates which had been stolen by armed raiders from a printing factory in Scotland were uncovered in raids on the homes of Ahmed and Parveen, along with the storage units.

Qureshi received a four-and-a-half year sentence, Parveen four years with three months to be served concurrently. Ahmed was sentenced to two-and-a-half years with half the sentence suspended.

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