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By | John Oates 26th October 2007 09:58

Big fines and jail time for MS scammers

Operation Cyberstorm nabs conspirators

Four people convicted last year of scamming Microsoft by reselling discounted education versions of its software have been ordered to pay $5m in fines, return $20m to Microsoft and serve up to five years in prison.

Husband and wife Mirza and Sameena Ali, of Fremont, got five-year sentences for conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The couple must also hand over $5m in profits and return $20m to Microsoft. Their accomplice Keith Griffen, a 56-year-old man from Oregon City, Oregon, was found guilty of nine charges of conspiracy. Griffen got two years and nine months' jail and must pay Microsoft $20m. A fourth man got two years' probation and community service.

The scam ran from 1997 to 2001 and Microsoft claims it lost out on $60m of sales - the FBI reckons the group got hold of $29m worth of software.

The four bought up small software dealers which were Microsoft "Authorized Education Resellers" and so had access to discounted MS products destined for schools and colleges. But the software was sold on to to businesses and other organisations with no links to education, and therefore no right to a Microsoft discount.

They were caught following a two-year undercover operation, dubbed Operation Cyberstorm, by the FBI and other government groups.

Details of their original conviction are on the DOJ site here, and there's more on their sentencing from Infoworld here. ®

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