Microsoft pirates face ten years in jail

Three receive prison sentences for selling bogus Microsoft software

Three UK computer criminals were sentenced to a total of ten years in prison this week for heading up a counterfeit Microsoft software scheme estimated to have been worth millions of pounds.

Sikander Qureshi, Shaheen Parveen and Zafar Ahmed, all from London, are thought by police to have sold hundreds of thousands of illegal copies of Microsoft software in the UK.

The group was sentenced at a court in Southwark, London. The presiding judge said that the gang had carried out a "careful and sophisticated fraud that struck at the route of commercial trust and probity."

News of the sentencing comes just days after Microsoft launched a new initiative to crack down on software pirates, in conjunction with law enforcement agencies around the world. Julia Phillpot, UK anti-piracy manager for Microsoft, which claims to lose millions of pounds through unauthorised copying of software each year, said that customers are the real victims of counterfeiters.

"Counterfeiting is a serious issue that significantly impacts customers, who are often duped by fraudsters into buying product they believe to be legal and genuine. We hope these sentences will help raise awareness of the massive problem counterfeiting represents to customers, industry and the economy," she said in a statement.

Since January 2000, Microsoft has been awarded a total of £12m in settlements and judgments against people copying software illegally.

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