Police seize fake Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity stickers
Thursday, 3 April 2014 00:00
Follows back to back raids against retailer, distributor and importer employing new tactic of selling fake authenticity stickers to mislead consumers into buying PCs with pirated software as genuine
The Criminal Investigation Division of Sri Lanka Police successfully conducted several raids against distributors, re-sellers and importers of counterfeit Microsoft certificates of authenticity (CoA). Based on results secured during the raid against the re-seller, the Police conducted subsequent raids against a main supplier and importer/local source of the fake CoA stickers. Sudath Perera Associates acted as Legal Counsel for Microsoft.
In a statement to media, Sudath Perera said: “Software pirates have stepped up their game and are becoming more and more creative in disguising their illegal activities. Where in the past it was enough to just install pirated software into computers to be sold to unsuspecting consumers, software pirates today have moved up another notch by printing and/or providing a fake or counterfeit CoA, giving the impression that the software is licensed and legitimate when it is the complete opposite.
“Following a tip off we made a complaint to the CID and a team of Police officers from the CID successfully crippled the illegal activities of a retailer, distributor and importer of counterfeit CoA stickers.
“Investigations reveal that a man, in his 40s, is the supplier of loose CoAs to computers and computer accessory shops in Colombo and the importer is aged between 25-30 years. The operations, which lasted for about four hours on each raid, resulted in the seizure of over 500 copies of counterfeit/fake Microsoft Windows 7 COAs.”
According to Perera, while CoAs themselves had no commercial value and could not be sold separately from the software product, when it is attached to a copy of pirated software, it gives the impression that the pirated software in question is licensed and legal, with the commercial value attached to the actual legal and licensed software.
Perera added: “Some software manufacturers use COA stickers to help consumers identify that the product is genuine. These stickers deploy numerous security features that are usually hard to replicate but if the consumer does not pay attention, they may not realise that what they purchased was illegal.
“They would have paid good money for bad software. Usually the quality of fake and genuine COA stickers is different and the counterfeiter will only be able to simulate some of the security features. It is important for consumers to do their homework by going to the software manufacturer’s website to learn how to tell a genuine and a counterfeit product.
“As such, consumers must be extra vigilant when making their computer purchases. Purchase from a reputable computer dealer and insist on only genuine software. Computer dealers who buy these stickers and dupe customers into believing that the software is genuine are now warned that the full extent of the law will be meted out against computer dealers who put consumers at risk through piracy and malware. “Pirated software is very likely to contain viruses, Trojans and spyware that will jeopardise consumer safety. Some Trojans are designed to steal money from your bank account and some spyware can even invade your family’s privacy by accessing your webcams and photos.
“We also wish to warn cyber cafes who purchase these COA stickers in an attempt to deceive the Police during our inspections to immediately remove these stickers and legalise their software immediately,” concluded Perera.
Microsoft Sri Lanka OEM Director Poojitha Rajapakse, commenting on the incident, said: “We recommend that all our customers compare the price differences in the market before purchasing any Microsoft Windows software. If the operating system is preloaded we strongly advise customers to ask their hardware vendor whether there is a Windows7 Certificate of Authencity (CoA) label affixed to the PC, if it is original and has not been tampered with. All Windows 8 preinstalled PCs should come with a Windows 8 hologram label affixed to the PC.”
He further stated that in the event the PC is without a preinstalled operating system, it is advised to purchase Microsoft’s Genuine Windows operating system, which comes in a package, with a distributor hologram sticker. “In case of doubt, Microsoft Sri Lanka continues to provide support for the ‘activation’ of your software, for locally purchased software, via our Help Desk. Further details can be obtained via www.microsoft.com/howtotell,” he said.