Microsoft tip-off prompts six arrests for suspected fake software sales


A Microsoft tip-off to the City of London police about counterfeit software sales has resulted in six arrests in Humberside.

The accused were arrested by officers from the City of London police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) last week on suspicion of selling counterfeit products online.

The arrests are reportedly linked to an ongoing police inquiry into the selling on of fake product keys, Microsoft Windows re-installation discs and key cards via unnamed online auction sites.

A 40-year-old woman and two men in their early twenties were arrested at their home in Barton-upon- Humber, where an undisclosed number of suspected counterfeit items were seized.

A further two men, aged 70 and 38, and a 66-year-old woman were arrested shortly after at a second address where further items were also seized.

The 66-year-old was later released, while the remaining suspects were taken in for questioning and later bailed.

According to Microsoft estimates, the goods seized at both addresses are thought to be worth more than 100,000.

A third site in Essex was also searched, and computer equipment and documents were also taken by the police.

Abrahim Bakhtiar, an attorney working within Microsoft UK's digital crimes unit, said the selling on of counterfeit software is just another form of cyber crime.

"Microsoft works closely with many law enforcement agencies such as PIPCU and Trading Standards to ensure criminal actions are pursued," Bakhtiar said.

"This investigation is a real testament to PIPCU's and Microsoft DCU's resolve when it comes to stamping out cybercrime and we applaud the swift action PIPCU and Humberside Police have undertaken in relation to this case."

Microsoft software, along with products made by Adobe, are among the most pirated in the world, with the software giant regularly speaking out against the perils of using fake products.

In some cases, counterfeit products don't work, put users' machines at risk of viruses and can even leave them open to identity theft.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.