Photo (file): Enforcement division officers from Malaysia's Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.
In late July this year, the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) raided a syndicate, for selling counterfeit Microsoft products, complete with fake certificates of authenticity (COA). MDTCC's Ipoh branch combined forces with the Cyber Team of MDTCC Putrajaya to conduct the raid.
Dato' Mohd Roslan Mahayudin, Director of Enforcement, confirmed: "The operation resulted in the recovery and seizure of more than 1,000 fake COAs and numerous counterfeit Microsoft box products valued at more than RM800,000 (about US$186,172), along with 18 personal computer systems, card printing machines and CD-ROM burning machines and other equipment used to produce the fake Microsoft products, for further investigation."
"The alleged mastermind running the syndicate has been summoned for questioning and have his statement recorded as part of our on-going investigation," continued Roslan. "If found guilty in a court of law he faces a penalty of up to RM10,000 (US$2,327) for each infringement or imprisonment for a jail term of not exceeding 3 years, as provided under the Trade Description Act 2012. Investigations are also on-going under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001."
He said the modus operandi of the seller was to place advertisements in online marketplaces. Upon payment, delivery was by mail courier. During and before the raid, dispatch persons from numerous mail courier service companies were seen coming to the premises of the syndicate. As the advertisements are generally non-specific, unsuspecting customers are easily duped into believing the items sold are genuine.
Roslan also said, "The MDTCC is gravely concerned with the increasing rise in fake and counterfeit goods being sold as genuine at many online marketplaces. In this regard, the MDTCC continues to be vigilant against any online seller peddling counterfeit goods as genuine in their effort to deceive unsuspecting buyers. No effort will be spared in dealing with these unscrupulous online cheaters."
Commenting on the fake certificates, he said: "Ironically, COAs have no intrinsic commercial value and is never sold separately from the software product. However, when the COA is attached to a copy of pirated Microsoft software, it gives the impression that the pirated software is licensed and legal, and thus has the commercial value of the actual legal and licensed software copy."
In a move to combat the sale of counterfeit software at online marketplaces, the MDTCC had brought together five online marketplaces - Lazada, 11street, Lelong.my, Mudah.my, and LogOn - to sign a pledge to remove any sale of counterfeit Microsoft software from their portals in Nov 2016. (Also see - Malaysian ministry, eCommerce firms form pledge to fight software piracy)
Pirated software feeds malware
Keshav Dhakad, assistant general counsel & regional director, Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), Microsoft Asia said that software piracy was a recognised global problem and three in five personal computers (PCs) in Asia Pacific were found to be using non-genuine software in 2016. However, using pirated software expose users to a plethora of cyber threats.
"Hackers and organised cybercriminals today are adept at exploiting information technology vulnerabilities and human errors to compromise computers for malicious and financial gains at the expense of organisations and individuals," said Dhakad.
"Cybercrime is predicted to cost the global economy an estimated US$6 trillion by 2021," he added. "While cybersecurity defences continue to evolve, users are slow at adapting, whereas cybercriminals are constantly advancing their attack vectors (malware strains) and delivery mechanisms. Piracy of software is increasingly becoming a key vehicle for cybercriminals to exploit computer vulnerabilities and breach security measures with ease."
Enforcement director Roslan added: "Let this be a warning to computer dealers who buy and resell these counterfeit Microsoft products in the hope of duping unsuspecting customers into believing the products they are selling are genuine, that the MDTCC is aware of their unethical business practices and that the full extent of the law will be meted out against them if they are found guilty in a court of law."
For some other local software piracy articles, see:
- Software piracy ring cracked: Microsoft
- Microsoft wins lawsuit against Malaysian computer firm
- Penang kicks off genuine software campaign
- Microsoft files lawsuits against 10 computer dealers in Malaysia
- Malaysia's Melaka aims to be first in the country with 'zero-piracy'
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