Four men have been imprisoned for a combined total of 10 years after their multimillion-pound software piracy scam was uncovered by the National Crime Squad (NCS).
A two-and-a-half year investigation, involving both the FBI and the NCS, as well as an eight-and-a-half month trial, have led to the breaking of the "largest conspiracy of its kind in the UK", according to the NCS.
The men were found guilty last week at Reading Crown Court of conspiracy to defraud.
Akbal Alibhai, Nabil Bakir, Adam Collier and Chiam Nathan Dias, who distributed pirated Microsoft software, also face further court proceedings for the potential confiscation of millions of pounds that they are believed to have made as a result of the fraud.
Alibhai and Bakir were each sentenced to four-and-a-half years, and Collier and Dias both received a four-month sentence.
The four men used various companies - PC Software in Gerrards Cross, Oracle Worldwide Trading/Lothbury Corp in Berkshire and Wayfarer in east London - to globally import and distribute illegal software, such as Office 2000 and Windows 98.
Detective Inspector Vic Klinkosz from the NCS said: "This was a complex international investigation. Our success demonstrates how the NCS works with other agencies and foreign law enforcement to counter serious and organised criminal networks wherever they may operate."
Julia Phillpot, UK antipiracy manager at Microsoft, said: "We have a team of investigators who work closely with the NCS to bring counterfeiters to justice and we were delighted with this result. We were concerned about the effect this had on the legitimate channel partners and unsuspecting customers."
This case highlighted the dangers of not buying through legitimate distribution, she added.
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