RealTime IT News

Feds Bust Craigslist Software Pirates

Three alleged software pirates face criminal copyright infringement charges for selling illegal copies of popular software titles on Craigslist.

If convicted, the three New York-area men each face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

All three are free on bail.

"I and other agents have observed numerous advertisements for the unlawful sale of pirated computer software over Craigslist," FBI agent Michael Petronella stated in the complaint.

"We have been involved in several investigations into individuals selling pirated software over Craigslist in the New York area."

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), Riddi Bajracharya, Blid Yesser and Rob Lnu sold illegal copies of Adobe Photoshop and Creative Suite, Macromedia Dreamweaver and Studio, and Windows XP, among other titles, at steeply discounted prices.

Bajracharya, for instance, sold 11 titles to an FBI undercover agent for approximately $235 even though the titles retail for more than $5,000. Yesser sold 15 titles to another FBI agent for $90 that retail for about $2,500.

Lnu offered the deepest discounts, selling 18 titles worth $9,900 for only $45.

In each case, the defendants supplied a file with the software that contained the serial numbers for the program.

Yesser went so far as to warn the undercover agent not to register the titles with the manufacturer. Instead, he told the agent how to install the software using "cracked keys" that came with the title.

Cracked software has been stripped of its internal copyright protections.

The DoJ said in a statement that Yesser told the agent he worked with a group in Romania that cracked software and that "he could get anything."

In selling his illegal software, Lnu told an undercover agent his titles required not only the serial numbers he provided but also a key generator used to gain unauthorized access to a software title.

"I spoke to a representative of…Macromedia and provided the serial numbers for the Macromedia products (Lnu) sold and was informed by the representative that these serial numbers were pirated and not generated by Macromedia," the undercover agent stated in a deposition.

The investigations and subsequent charges are part of an ongoing effort by the FBI's Computer Crimes Squad in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.