Woman sentenced in multimillion dollar software sting

A 52-year-old Taiwanese woman who pleaded no contest in one of the U.S.' largest software piracy cases was sentenced to nine years in prison Friday, one of the longest sentences ever in the U.S. for a case involving software piracy.

Lisa Chen was arrested along with three associates in November, 2001 after local sheriffs seized hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated software worth more than US$75 million that Chen and her associates were believed to have smuggled into the country from Taiwan, the district attorney for the county of Los Angeles said last week. Published reports and Symantec Corp., whose software was involved in the smuggling operation, later put the value of the software at $98 million.

The pirated software included copies of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system and Office 2000 desktop software, as well as Symantec's Norton AntiVirus software, according to a statement released by the district attorney's office.

More than 600,000 units of Symantec's software alone were seized in the raid, according to Symantec.

The forgeries were apparently of high quality and came with professionally printed packaging as well as manuals, user license agreements, decals, and bar codes, according to the district attorney's office.

Chen was apprehended when she drove up to a warehouse that police were searching for evidence. Her business was located in Alhambra, part of greater Los Angeles, according to the district attorney.The car Chen was driving was filled with copies of counterfeited software, according to published reports.

Chen, who listed her residence in New Jersey at the time of her arrest, was described by law enforcement officials as a "manager" in the smuggling operation, responsible for distributing the pirated software and collecting payments from customers, according to the district attorney's office.

Chen and her associates were believed to have been importing pirated software made in Taiwan to the U.S. since 1998, the district attorney's Office said.

In August, Chen pleaded no contest to one count of failure to disclose the origin of a recording or product. In return for her plea, Chen was guaranteed a prison sentence of no more than nine years.

In addition to her prison sentence, Chen will have to pay $11 million in additional restitution to Microsoft and Symantec, according to published reports.

Symantec released a statement expressing satisfaction with the ruling and warning of the dangers of buying and using pirated software.

"The successful prosecution of this case is a tremendous step forward by law enforcement authorities and the combined efforts of the software industry towards stopping the proliferation of illegal copying and distribution of software," Symantec said.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.

The software seizure was one of the largest in U.S. history. It was the result of an 18 month undercover investigation by the U.S. Customs Service and the Southern California Regional High Tech Task Force, which includes the district attorney's office, local law enforcement agencies, as well as the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul Roberts

PC World
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender’s best-in-class security solutions have been awarded Product of the Year. Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?