Chinese Man Pleads Guilty To $100 Million In Software Piracy - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Chinese Man Pleads Guilty To $100 Million In Software Piracy

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WILMINGTON, Del. - A Chinese man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after being accused of pirating $100 million worth of copyrighted software. 

Xiang Li, 36 of Chengdu, China set up website www.crack99.com and advertised thousands of pirated software titles at a fraction of their retail value - he sold them in at least 28 U.S. states and over 60 foreign countries.

"This is the largest that I've personally have ever seen, that involves criminal copyright violations. The type of software as been noted was high technology software used in a number of applications including defense, engineering, aerospace and satellite tracking," Assistant U.S. Attorney of Delaware David Hall said.

"These were thousands of titles offered for sale illegally online. We're not talking about the loss of $50,000 or $100,000 - this was $100 million in revenue to mainly U.S. companies. Hackers are literally stealing sophisticated U.S. software, cracking our codes and selling it on the street through criminal middlemen like Mr. Li," Director of ICE John Morton said.

Undercover agents made a series of purchases on Li's website and led to a face-to-face meeting with Li in June 2011. He met with agents posing as  U.S. businessmen and discussed plans to distribute pirated software to small businesses in the U.S.

"Within minutes after that he was in handcuffs and he was flown back to the United States and ended up within hours at the Philadelphia Detention Center," U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles Oberly III said.

Two of his biggest buyers - NASA engineer Cosburn Wedderburn and chief scientist of a Kentucky-based U.S. Defense contractor Dr. Wronald Best.  "They both pled guilty pending sentencing in the U.S. District Court in Delaware," Oberly said.

Li will be sentenced on May 3, 2013 by United States District Judge Leonard P. Stark and faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Wedderburn and Best could face up to 5 years behind bars.

For part two of this story, click here.

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