A Chinese national has admitted he coordinated a massive piracy ring that shifted more than $100m in bootleg Microsoft gear.
Orland Liu, 37, was said to be part of an international operation that included himself and at least seven other counterfeiters and resellers in the US who knowingly shifted knock-off copies of software from Microsoft and Adobe.
The US Attorney's office of Missouri accused Liu of obtaining hundreds of thousands of legit product keys from someone within China that could be used to activate software from both Microsoft and Adobe.
Liu's indictment [PDF] charged that after getting the product keys from his source in China, he enlisted the help of resellers in the US to design counterfeit activation cards and copies of software that were then sold as genuine, in an operation that ran from 2010 until 2015 and generated more than $100m in revenues. Agents who broke up the ring say they have also seized more than $20m in unsold products.
At least some of the product keys were presented to punters as codes assigned to Chinese PC shifter Lenovo, prosecutors claimed.
While the resellers in the US handled much of the sales through their own websites or on Amazon and eBay, Liu himself also had a hand in some of the transactions. In 2015, he admitted to selling 500 Microsoft Office product keys for $35,000 to one of Uncle Sam's undercover g-men.
Liu, who was collared in Dallas on his way back to China from a US trip, was found to be carrying nearly $80m worth of stolen Microsoft product keys at the time of his arrest. He also helped orchestrate the design and printing of the boxes, discs, and product activation cards for the counterfeit software.
He now faces up to 10 years in an American cooler after pleading guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiracy and one count of trafficking in counterfeit labels.
Spokespeople for Lenovo, Microsoft and Adobe were not immediately available for comment. ®