Counterfeit software worth tens of thousands of pounds was recovered from a south London address following a tip-off by an angry customer.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) carried out a raid on the private address of a suspected software pirate in a joint operation with Trading Standards Officers last week.
Pirated copies of Microsoft, Corel and Adobe products were confiscated during the raid, plus evidence including a receipt and customer orders which allegedly detail the distribution of illegal software via online auction sites. If convicted, the suspect faces up to 10 years in jail.
Margo Miller, legal counsel for the BSA, said the organisation had acted on information provided by a disgruntled customer. "This person had bought the software from the website in good faith, but on receipt of the goods, realised that it was not genuine," she said.
Miller said that internet customers should always be wary of cut-price software offers, and avoid compilation software which has several different manufacturers' products bundled on one disk.
Other immediate 'give-aways' are a lack of documents with the software, offers of back-up copies, nondescript labels and products which just do not look like the real thing, said Miller.
According to the BSA, at least 90 per cent of software sold on auction sites is counterfeit, and the pirate software trade is costing the industry more than $13bn each year.
"Internet piracy is a growing problem," said Miller. "Anyone who has any suspicions about a supplier should contact the BSA immediately."
Julia Philpot, anti-piracy officer at Microsoft, said the company takes counterfeit software very seriously. "Software piracy affects not only software manufacturers, but the industry, people's jobs and treasury revenues through taxes, and as a result, society as a whole," said Philpot.
She added that the software giant has been forced into conducting worldwide investigative and enforcement efforts to "impede the illegal distribution" of software over the internet. "It is in every business's interests to avoid pirated software and the many problems that come with it," she said.
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