Singapore jails software fraudster

A computer science student who sold counterfeit copies of Microsoft software has been jailed for four months

A Singapore court has jailed a university student for four months after finding him guilty of selling fake copies of Microsoft software.

Ang Chiong Teck, a 26 year old computer sciences student, imported counterfeit Microsoft software from Hong Kong at a cost of around S$80 (£28) per disc and resold them as genuine software for S$180 to S$320 — a 30 percent discount on normal retail prices, according to a report in Malaysian newspaper The Star.

It reported that the counterfeits, which included high-quality packaging and fake certificates of authenticity, were "virtually indistinguishable from the real thing". The scam was only uncovered when customers complained to Microsoft that their software lacked the electronic code needed to register their purchase and download updates.

Katharine Bostick, senior director of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft Asia Pacific, told ZDNet UK that Microsoft had informed the Singapore authorities about his scam and was satisfied with the resulting sentence.

"In this specific case, Microsoft had received a public complaint and referred the matter to the Singapore Police for investigation," she said in an emailed statement. "The sentence delivered on this specific case sends a strong signal to dishonest individuals out there who do not respect intellectual-property rights. We support and are fully committed to working closely with the authorities in Singapore."

Ang was arrested in September and 100 copies of counterfeit software with a value of over S$20,000 (£7000) were confiscated, according to The Star. His sentencing was postponed until December, to allow Ang to complete his examinations at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Singapore tightened up its intellectual-property laws at the beginning of 2005, after signing a free-trade agreement with the US.