Game Piracy Nets Jail Term, Heavy Fine

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An Ohio man will lose his house, his car, spend more than two years in prison, eat a $367,000 fine and be forced to pay restitution after being convicted of selling pirated videogames online.

36-year-old Qiang “Michael” Bi made a big mistake when he mailed a spreadsheet containing details about his counterfeit software business from his personal email account to his work account at Nationwide Insurance, his former employer. It’s quite arguable that his real “big mistake” was selling over 35,000 pirated PC games over a period stretching from 2005 to the end of 2009, but however you want to look at it, the email and spreadsheet, which listed more than 50 eBay and PayPal accounts used to sell the games, was discovered by Nationwide and that’s where his troubles begin.

An investigation by the FBI’s Cybercrime Task Force and U.S. Postal Inspectors ensued, leading to Bi’s arrest, charges and conviction on mail fraud, copyright infringement and aggravated identity theft. Judge Algenon Marbley said he believes Bi is “a good person” at his core who “made a gross error in judgment… all motivated by greed,” but nonetheless sentenced him to 2.5 years in prison, 416 hours of community service and restitution of an as-yet-undetermined amount. Bi will also have to fork over $367,669 dollars representing the proceeds of the crime, along with his house, his car, his computer and other electronic equipment.

Investigators determined that the retail value of the games Bi sold, which he offered for $10 a pop, was roughly $700,000.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch

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