Internet criminals beware, cyberspace anonymity is a thing of the past.
U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) made a huge bust last year when they collared 36-year-old Xiang Li, a Chinese man who offered 2,000 stolen software products for way less than their retail price, their worth totaling more than $100 million.
Li registered a number of domain names, including crack99.com, and hired computer experts to hack into software products that can be used in a number of areas, including the “military, engineering, space exploration, mathematics and explosive simulation,” according to The New York Times, and sold them to others. He used a Gmail account to carry out more than 500 transactions with customers in at least 28 states and more than 60 foreign countries, and the software was pirated from more than 200 manufacturers.
He was arrested in June 2011 in Saipan after being lured to the US island territory by undercover agents posing as businessmen looking to purchase pirated software from Li. Yesterday ICE announced that Li will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and faces up to 25 years in prison as well as a fine of $250,000.
Among Li’s notable customers were Cosburn Wedderburn, an electronics engineer at NASA, who purchased 12 programs with a retail value over $1.2 million, and Dr. Wronald Best, a chief scientist for a government contractor who bought 10 software products worth upwards of $600,000. Both of these men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and are awaiting sentencing.
This is good and all, protecting U.S. industry, but isn’t the Internet full of child pornography rings and stuff? Investigating those should probably be pretty high on the priority list.