Earlier today the Chinese government and the FBI announced the largest bust of counterfeit software manufacturing or distribution ever. The bust by the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) in cooperation with the FBI and help from Microsoft and others was of a syndicate, headquartered in China’s Southern Guangdong province that is estimated to have sold more than $2 billion in counterfeit Microsoft software in 27 countries. The sting, carried out over the last couple of weeks by the PSB and FBI seized over five hundred million dollars worth of counterfeit products like the one pictured below. Beyond the sheer size of the bust the most exciting aspect of this for us on the WGA team is knowing that WGA actually played a role. More than 1,000 customers in 12 different countries who had counterfeits from this particular source used WGA to learn their software was counterfeit, submitted the counterfeits to Microsoft, and forensic and intelligence specialists then traced the counterfeits back to the criminal syndicate in China. So Windows customers, using WGA, have actually helped to bring the biggest software counterfeiting operation in history to justice.
I thought I would share this story because I think it really highlights the true purpose of WGA: to help people identify counterfeit software to protect themselves and Microsoft products from this type of activity. WGA’s goal is not to punish the people who purchased these programs; they, of all people, are the most victimized. The goal is to give these people a tool to let them know they have been victimized and can do something about it.
Here’s an example of the quality of the counterfeits being manufactured (the left one is genuine):