Police bust £50m software piracy ring

The police have rumbled a massive Microsoft software piracy operation, sentencing the culprits to 10 years in jail

Four men have been sentenced to lengthy jail sentences after the discovery of a £50m piracy ring involving Microsoft software.

After an eight-and-a-half-month trial the men were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud. They have been sentenced to nearly 10 years collectively after the National Crime Squad investigated a worldwide conspiracy involving counterfeit Microsoft software. This conspiracy is believed to have been one of the largest of its kind in the UK. The ringleaders face further court proceedings for potential confiscation of millions of pounds they are believed to have made in ill-gotten gains.

Akbal Alibahai, 34, of Palmers Green, London and Nabil Bakir, 29, of Ascot, Berkshire, directors of a company called PC Software, were each sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Two other accomplices, Adam Collier, 32, of Sandhurst, Berkshire and Chiam Dias, 35, of Marylebone, London were each given custodial sentences of four months.

Dias operated a small computer supplies company, Wayfarer in Shoreditch, east London and used to fulfil fake invoices and launder money from Alibhai's and Bakir's software operation. Dias then sold these products to a company run by Collier, a former painter and decorator prior to becoming managing director of two software companies, Oracle Worldwide Trading and Lothbury Corporation.

The gang conspired to obtain and supply huge quantities of counterfeit Microsoft software in a distribution network that covered the Far East and America. The focal point of the activity in the UK centred on companies in the Thames Valley who were storing and distributing counterfeit software.

Julia Phillpot, Microsoft UK channel anti-piracy manager, said in a statement: "This was an organised attempt to con consumers and businesses into buying counterfeit software. We are very concerned that customers have spent thousands of pounds on what they believe to be genuine Microsoft products to find they are running illegal software."

For an up-to-date list of authorised distributors in the UK and Ireland, go here.

You can also call the anti-piracy hotline, in confidence, on 0800 013 2222 to report suspected piracy or to get more information on the subject of piracy.

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