EBay seller pleads guilty to software piracy charges

An eBay seller pleads guilty to ID theft and software counterfeiting charges

A 23-year-old Oregon man has pleaded guilty to charges that he used identity theft to set up bogus accounts on eBay, where he sold counterfeit software with a retail value of more than US$1 million, the US Department of Justice said.

Jeremiah Joseph Mondello of Eugene, Oregon, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count each of criminal copyright infringement, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud before Judge Ann Aiken in US District Court for the District of Oregon. He faces up to 27 years in prison and a fine of US$500,000, the DOJ said.

Mondello initiated thousands of separate online auctions, using more than 40 fictitious user names and online payment accounts to sell copies of counterfeit software between December 2005 and October 2007, the DOJ said. Mondello made more than US$400,000 from the sales, the DOJ said.

Mondello also admitted to stealing personal information as a way to set up online payment accounts in the names of his victims, the DOJ said. He used a computer keystroke logger to acquire victims' names, bank account numbers and passwords, the agency said.

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) began investigating Mondello in 2007 and later turned over information to the DOJ, the trade group said.

The SIIA used its proprietary Auction Enforcement Tool to identify Mondello through his eBay seller ID. The trade group found that Mondello was likely using several other eBay IDs, the group said.

The Mondello case is "a huge victory in the fight against software piracy on eBay and other auction sites," said Keith Kupferschmid, SIIA's senior vice president of intellectual property policy and enforcement. "He was doing a lot of other things that were just as bad, if not worse, than piracy."

Mondello, through the use of multiple IDs, was making it appear he was "great, reliable seller, when in fact, he was not," Kupferschmid added.

In addition to the Mondello plea, SIIA announced Thursday it has filed nine lawsuits against eBay sellers suspected of trafficking in pirated software. The trade group has filed 26 cases against online sellers this year.

The new SIIA lawsuits were filed against sellers based in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Nevada, Michigan, Florida and New York.

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