A gang of East London software pirates are to go behind bars after being found guilty of running a multimillion pound software counterfeit racket.
The gang, convicted at the Old Bailey on March 16, is due to be sentenced on April 6. The pirates are believed to have sold counterfeit Microsoft software worth millions of pounds throughout the UK, including software worth thousands to St Albans City District Council.
The group's mastermind, Sikander Qureshi, 55, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud Microsoft, as was Shaheen Parveen, 42, her brother Babar Manzoor, 25, who jumped bail and fled to his native Pakistan, and Zafar Ahmed, 40.
A Heathrow airport customs officer accidentally intercepted a package containing hundreds of counterfeit Microsoft CDs sent from Thailand and destined for Qureshi's East London accountancy practice. Hackney Council Trading Standards officers swooped on Qureshi's office where they found a shrinkwrapping machine, counterfeit software and cellophane.
When the police caught up with the crooks, bank records revealed the pirates had profited by over £1.5m, much of which was transferred to friends and relatives in Pakistan. Police have only recovered a small sum of money including £96,000 in cash that was found in a safety deposit box.
Her Honour Judge Pearlman, presiding, said, "These are nothing but grave offences and are serious enough for me to pass nothing but custodial sentences."