US cracks multimillion-dollar piracy ring

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Two brothers in the US have been given lengthy jail terms for selling large amounts of pirated computer software..

A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia sentenced Maurice Robberson, 48, to three years in prison and ordered him to pay US$855,917 in restitution.

His brother Thomas Robberson, 55, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay US$151,488 in restitution.

Maurice Robberson pleaded guilty to conspiracy and felony copyright infringement, while his brother Thomas Robberson pleaded guilty to a single count of felony copyright infringement.

Thomas Robberson grossed more than US$150,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly US$1 million by operating Bestvalueshoppe.com and TheDealDepot.net.

Maurice Robberson grossed more than US$855,000 selling software with a retail value of nearly US$5.6 million through CDsalesUSA.com and AmericanSoftwareSales.com. Both brothers have agreed to forfeit all proceeds from the illegal businesses.

"People who steal the intellectual property of others for their personal financial gain, while defrauding consumers who think they are buying legitimate products, will be punished for their crimes, as today's sentences prove," said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher.

"The prosecution of these and other defendants related to this multi-year investigation of internet piracy software operations would not have been possible without the combined efforts of the US Department of Justice, the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the FBI."

US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg added: "Software piracy on the internet is a problem that law enforcement must address. These cases show that federal investigators and prosecutors can and will bring intellectual property thieves to justice."

Two others who conspired with Maurice Robberson to commit copyright infringement have already been sentenced.

Danny Ferrer, 39, was given 72 months for selling more than US$4 million in pirated software with a retail value of nearly US$20 million on Buysusa.com.

Alton Lee Grooms, 56, who helped initiate some of the illegal businesses and profited by more than US$150,000, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after cooperating with the investigation.

The men ran businesses selling counterfeit software from late 2002 to October 2005 from companies such as Adobe, Autodesk and Macromedia.

The counterfeit items were manufactured by members of the conspiracy and included labels that featured trademarks and service marks of the legitimate software companies.

After receiving complaints from software copyright holders about Buysusa.com, an undercover FBI agent made a number of purchases. Further investigation revealed an array of related websites.

Copyright ©v3.co.uk


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