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By | John Oates 3rd May 2005 15:15

Silicon Valley computer thieves sentenced

Operation Matrix nets nine

Operation Matrix, which uncovered $480m in stolen hardware and software, is ending this week with the sentencing of the final two defendants. In all nine people have been imprisoned as a result of the huge undercover operation which ran from 1999.

The FBI worked with local law officers to recover the property and make arrests. Undercover agents posed as brokers to get inside four separate criminal networks specialising in IT equipment in Silicon Valley. Many companies mixed stolen equipment and pirated software with legitimate dealing.

Mark Barfield, FBI case agent, told Mercury News: “We found a number of companies that would mix their above-ground legitimate business with grey market or even in the black market. When times are tough, they’d blend it toward stolen goods.”

The final two defendants, William Liao, San Jose and Jackson Yu of Fremont, were sentenced to 12 and 18 months. They ran firms called Atra Technology and AG Data.The other seven received sentences of between one and three years.

Scott Frewing, an assistant DA who worked on the case, told Mercury News the case would have a chilling effect on black market dealing. He said those convicted were “the hubs of the wheels of commerce in the black market.”®

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