Scammers get jail time for Microsoft software scheme

Four people have been sentenced to jail time and tens of millions of dollars in fines for buying discounted Microsoft software and then illegally reselling it at a profit.

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Four people have been sentenced to jail time and tens of millions of dollars in fines for buying discounted Microsoft software and then illegally reselling it at a profit.

Mirza Ali, 60, and Sameena Ali, 53, the husband-and-wife owners of Samtech Research, were sentenced yesterday to five years in prison and ordered to pay more than £12m in fines to Microsoft for their role in a software reselling scheme run between 1997 and 2001.

The Alis and their associates purchased more than £14m-worth of software at Microsoft's academic-discount rates and then resold it to non-academic entities, making more than £2m in profits. The two were convicted on 28 November last year and had been awaiting sentencing.

Previous to this, the Alis had already been kicked out of Microsoft's Authorised Education Reseller (AER) programme, but they "formed new corporations... to disguise their identity from Microsoft and re-enter the AER programme," US authorities said.

Two of the Alis' associates, Keith Griffen, 56, and William Glushenko, 66, were also sentenced in connection with the case. Griffen, a partner in some of the Alis' corporations, was sentenced to 33 months in prison and about £9m in fines. Glushenko was given one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

The scam was exposed during the course of a two-year undercover investigation called "Operation Cyberstorm" by US federal authorities.

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