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Fake Microsoft Software Sold by Mexican Drug Cartel, Lawyer Says

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, showed a fake copy of its Office 2007 software found for sale on the streets of Mexico and “brazenly” stamped with the rectangular “FMM” logo of the Familia drug cartel to demonstrate the link between counterfeiting and organized crime.

“This is the real side, the scary side of counterfeiting and it plagues the world,” David Finn, Microsoft’s associate general counsel for antipiracy, said today at the Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy in Paris.

The value of counterfeit and pirated goods within the Group of 20 countries may rise to $1.77 trillion by 2015 from an estimated $650 million in 2008, costing the economy $125 billion. These calculations, announced today by the International Chamber of Commerce, expand on prior estimates factoring in domestic trade in fakes and pirated goods as well as pirated items distributed online.

Finn said consumers don’t seek out fakes as cheaper alternatives, arguing that fears over identity theft and computer viruses are more important considerations.

“The risk is higher when you don’t use the real thing,” Finn said. Seventy percent of personal computers in China have viruses, “a direct result” of purchases and downloads of pirated and fake products, he said.

“Organized criminals are at the very center of the problem,” said John Newton, head of Interpol’s intellectual-property rights program. Counterfeiting and piracy are “low-risk, high-profit crimes” with the proceeds often reinvested in other criminal pursuits, as with La Familia.

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