Calif. Man Busted in Counterfeit Software Scheme
(LOS ANGELES) — Hundreds of online shoppers who believed they were purchasing authentic copies of Microsoft Office 2007 CD-ROMs received counterfeit copies of the program, federal agents said Monday in announcing the arrest of a 30-year-old California man.
Collier Harper, of Lakewood, Calif., allegedly imported and sold more than 1,000 bogus copies of the software over the Internet from sites like eBay and Craigslist.
“They look very real or genuine,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison said. “That’s sort of the danger. Somebody can go on eBay and think they’re buying a genuine Microsoft product and in fact it’s not genuine.”
Harper is charged in a four-count federal indictment with trafficking and smuggling. If convicted, he could face up to 60 years in prison.
Prosecutors claim Harper had the fake software packages shipped from a manufacturer in China and then sold them online in the U.S. The amount he is accused of selling would have been worth around $150,000 in stores if they had been genuine Microsoft discs.
“This is not a victimless crime,” explained Wilkison. “It makes the genuine products more expensive for consumers. I think it makes it more difficult for companies to sell things here in the United States.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is assisting in the investigation.
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