Cheap Software via Spam is
probably a Scam
by Kim Komando
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Spam advertisements hawking popular software titles
basement prices are flooding the internet. More often than not, it's
literally a steal of a deal. Most of these deals are hawking
In the early days, counterfeit software was created
by a few
hackers. Today, global organized crime gangs, including the Italian
Mafia, Russian mob, Middle Eastern terrorists and Columbian drug
cartels, are all taking part, according to executives from Microsoft
and security experts. Using sophisticated methods, they create software
nearly identical to the real thing.
Financially, they're reaping the rewards. the
Alliance, which battles counterfeiting, says piracy cost software
makers over $13 billion in 2002, the latest year available. The U.S.
software industry alone lost over $6 billion.
How does it work?
Counterfeiters buy legitimate software
and copy the box
design, plastic wrapping and certificate of authenticity. Or they break
into software distributing houses and steal the goods. Using expensive
copiers, thousands of CDs are created in a day.
Websites are set up offering deals. Most sites are
overseas, far from U.S. law. You'll find traditionally expensive titles
such as Microsoft Office 2003 or Adobe Photoshop at 60% to 70% under
retail. To direct potential customers to the website, millions of
inboxes are spammed.
In some cases, the spam looks like it comes from
sources as Amazon.com. But that is not the case. The criminals design
the e-mails to make them look legitimate, down to return addresses.
A customer who buys such a program could get
working software. But
the industry says customers are more likely to receive non-working
products, or perhaps nothing at all.
There is little recourse for customers who are
cheated. If a
website is maintained overseas, the money is probably lost forever.
Complaints can be filed with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org)
and the Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.org), but customers
shouldn't hold their breath.
Pirated software can do more than cost you money.
Jenny Blank, director of enforcement for the Business Software
Alliance, you don't know what you are getting when you buy pirated
software. It sometimes can have bugs or viruses, and you could ruin
Pirated software has a detrimental effect on the
economy, as well.
More than 100,000 U.S. jobs and over $5 billion in lost wages can be
attributed to counterfeiters, according to reseachers.
You can avoid falling prey to
counterfeiters through 4 easy
1. Read the advertisement carefully. Most
overseas. Grammar and spelling are often substandard. If you notice
spelling mistakes or awkward english, step carefully.
2. Too-good-to-be-true prices are usually just
that. If you see $300
software selling for $20, chances are it's not legitimate.
3. Be leery of groups of products on one CD. For
Photoshop and Microsoft Word would never be sold together as a package.
4. Investigate the company selling the software.
Business Bureau keeps reliability reports on most companies. Avoid a
company that has many unresolved complaints or doesn't list contact
information on the website.
Learning how to avoid counterfeit software is
important. It stops
putting money into the pockets of criminals and keeps it in yours.
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Copyright C 2004
WestStar TalkRadio Network. Reprinted with permission.
No further republication or redistribution is permitted
of WestStar TalkRadio Network.
Visit Kim Komando at: www.komando.com