A US federal court has convicted a Chinese man in a multimillion dollar software piracy case after investigators shut down the operation and he plead guilty.
Xiang Li, 36, faces up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud.
The case has been dubbed by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as “one of the most significant cases of copyright infringement ever uncovered – and dismantled.”
Li was arrested in June 2011 after being lured by undercover buyers from the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division to the Pacific island of Saipan to deliver pirated software.
Li had been distributing high-cost programs, which he “cracked” or broke access and license codes to, through his website Crack99.com between 2008 and 2011, earning more than $60,000 from US buyers alone.
“Li mistakenly thought he was safe from the long arm of HSI, hiding halfway around the world in cyberspace anonymity,” ICE director John Morton said in a statement.
“Fast forward to today, where he is now being held accountable in Delaware for illegally stealing, distributing and ultimately exploiting American ingenuity and creativity at a loss of at least $100 million to US companies”.
Two US citizens, NASA engineer Cosburn Wedderburn and Wronald Best, chief scientist at a US defense contractor, who had purchased pirated programs from Li had also pleaded guilty to copyright infringement.