UK, USA crack whip on cyber piracy
UK police arrested six men as part of an internationally coordinated
crackdown on a multi-million pound software piracy scam.
Officers from the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHCTU) detained the six men, all British nationals in their 20s and 30s, in raids across the country last week.
The arrests coincided with over 100 FBI and customs raids in the USA targeting the "Warez" group, a 1,500-strong network accused of breaking copy protection schemes on games, music and digital video through underground web sites worldwide.
Raids were also conducted in Australia, Canada, Finland and Norway.
The Warez ring is responsible for 95 per cent of all pirated software available online, the US Customs Service said.
The NHTCU said they
believe six arrested men are part of a Warez-affiliated organisation
known as "Drink or Die", one of the illegal network's
largest and most sophisticated groups.
The six were arrested for alleged conspiracy to defraud and are being interviewed by NHTCU officers at various police stations in England.
Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU said: "This was a painstaking investigation which involved my officers working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies in using the very latest technology to combat this type of crime."
Meanwhile a report from Washington said that the US government moved to crack a massive software piracy ring, seizing computers in 27 cities in raids coordinated with four other countries.
The US Customs Service said the raids targeted the "Warez" community, those suspected of involvement with Internet sites responsible for at least $1 billion annually in lost sales of computer games, business software, digital music and digital movies.
U.S. law enforcement officials executed 37 warrants but made no arrests, said Kevin Delli-Colli, director of the U.S. Customs Service's CyberSmuggling Center.
"We have a mountain of digital evidence we need to analyze," Delli-Colli told a news conference.
Authorities in Australia, Britain, Finland and Norway executed an additional 19 search warrants and arrested five suspects, U.S. officials said.
The Business Software Alliance, a group of software companies, estimate the industry loses $12 billion a year due to software piracy.
Warez (pronounced wares), in the language of the Internet, refers to any illegally obtained digital material, ranging from pornography to computer operating systems.
sites, Web users can swap illegally obtained digital material.