Microsoft Shopping for Pirates

Dennis Faas's picture

It seems Microsoft is nabbing software pirates the old fashioned way.

Despite its much-publicized release of the anti-piracy program WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage), Microsoft has successfully nabbed 26 software pirates through "secret shopping."

Secret shopping is the practice of sending a company representative -- dressed like the average citizen -- into retail businesses in the hopes of nabbing shoplifters, or in this case software pirates. Microsoft actually purchased random software and then tested its legitimacy. The Redmond-based company also used its "rat" phone line -- 1-800-RU-LEGIT -- to track down some of the sellers facing legal action. (Source:

The 26 software pirates facing lawsuits are all within the United States, from locations including: Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Georgia and South Carolina. According to Microsoft, those on the list of 26 allegedly loaded illegal copies of its software onto disks for the purpose of resale. (Source:

This is hardly the first time Microsoft has used the secret shopper tactic to capture software pirates. In September of last year, the strategy was employed to catch eight suspects, from Arizona to California to Minnesota. It was also the first instance where WGA was put to use, with the lawsuit against Torrance, California retailer depending largely on evidence submitted from consumers running the program.

Microsoft has stated repeatedly that those customers "duped" into purchasing pirated software will be reimbursed if they can provide proof and information on the source. (Source:

Microsoft's success in finding pirates the traditional way should be some comfort for a company facing intense scrutiny for a high-tech program (WGA) that many critics have openly labeled "Spyware".

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