California Man Pleads Guilty in Case Involving Kidnapping, Counterfeit Software

California Man Pleads Guilty in Case Involving Kidnapping, Counterfeit Software

REDMOND, Wash., May 12, 1998 — The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced on May 6 that Ming Ching Jin, a 40-year-old man from Rowland Heights, Calif., pleaded guilty to kidnapping and other charges, including conspiring to manufacture more than $2.5 million in counterfeit Microsoft® software. Jin also pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and illegally possessing 5.5 pounds of the plastic explosive C-4 and 2.5 pounds of TNT at his home in March 1995.

At the time of Jin’s arrest on kidnapping charges, Los Angeles County deputies found $425,000 worth of counterfeit Microsoft Encarta® multimedia encyclopedia CD-ROM disks in Jin’s home. In addition to the counterfeit software, authorities found the house filled with weapons, including
“loaded guns under every seat cushion in the living room and the family room,”
according to Larry Morrison, Los Angeles deputy district attorney. Further investigation led deputies to a warehouse where more than $2.5 million in other counterfeit Microsoft products was recovered. Deputies also seized more than $800,000 in cash from various bank accounts controlled by Jin, many in different names.

Jin, who has been in custody since his arrest, faces a possible prison sentence of 30 years. He is scheduled for sentencing on July 13 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Three co-defendants had previously pleaded guilty to various charges including conspiracy to manufacture counterfeit software. They received sentences that ranged from one year in jail (as a condition of probation) to four years in state prison.

“We are very thankful to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for taking aggressive action in this huge case involving counterfeit Microsoft software,”
said Nancy Anderson, senior corporate attorney for North American anti-piracy at Microsoft Corp.
“The increasing presence of law enforcement and swift action in these cases, which often involve organized crime and multiple, serious crimes, should send a clear message to software counterfeiters that chances are high they’re going to be caught and prosecuted.”

Counterfeiting cases typically involve both copyright and trademark infringement. Under federal trademark law, criminal penalties include fines up to $2 million and 10 years in jail per infringement; federal copyright laws include fines up to $250,000 and five years in jail per violation.

“The large number of weapons and explosives, and the violence Jin inflicted on his victims, shows that software counterfeiters are not just white collar criminals anymore,”
said Morrison.
“They will resort to violence when it furthers their aims. We’re finding that, in more and more of these cases, weapons are recovered in conjunction with software counterfeiting operations, just like the drug trade.”

The software industry is a significant driver of the current economic prosperity in the United States, accounting for $102.8 billion in software and software-related services, payment of $7.2 billion in taxes and the creation of more than 2 million jobs. However, software piracy threatens the ability of the industry to continue to contribute to the American economy. According to a 1997 study by Nathan Associates Inc. of Arlington, Va., commissioned by the Business Software Alliance, software piracy in 1996 resulted in the loss of 130,000 jobs in the United States, nearly $1 billion in tax revenues and $5.3 billion in wages.

According to Microsoft, a number of warning signs can help computer buyers identify illegal software:

  • Microsoft’s agreements with computer manufacturers prohibit them from distributing Microsoft software without accompanying PC hardware. Microsoft products on the retail shelf should never include a line on the front cover of the users guide that states
    “For distribution with a new PC only.”
    OEM versions of Microsoft products do not include end-user support.

  • No Certificate of Authenticity

  • Prices that are
    “too good to be true”

  • No end-user license agreement

  • No product registration card

  • No backup disks, manuals or other materials for software installed on a new computer system

  • Backup disks that have handwritten labels, are not shrink-wrapped or appear to be of inferior quality

  • Manuals that are photocopied, are not shrink-wrapped or appear to be of inferior quality

Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line toll free at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or send e-mail to [email protected]. More information about software piracy can be obtained by calling the Business Software Alliance (BSA) anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or by sending e-mail to [email protected].

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft and Encarta are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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