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3 Convicted in Microsoft Software Scam

Thursday, December 07, 2006

SAN JOSE, Calif. —  Three people accused of scamming Microsoft Corp. by buying sharply discounted software intended for educational institutions and reselling it to nonacademic customers were convicted on conspiracy and fraud charges, federal prosecutors said.

Mirza Ali, 59, and his wife, Sameena Ali, 52, of Fremont, and Keith Griffen, 55, of Oregon City, Ore., were convicted in Oakland federal court last month.

Federal prosecutors Wednesday said the trio illegally bought and resold more than $29 million worth of Microsoft software between 1997 and 2001. They allegedly formed front companies and bought existing corporations to take advantage of a program offering reduced prices on software if it's resold to academic institutions. Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said it lost more than $60 million as a result of the scam.

The Alis also were convicted on money laundering charges for using the proceeds to buy property under the name of their son and wiring more than $300,000 to Pakistan, prosecutors said.

Sentencing was scheduled for March 12.

Christopher Cannon, defense lawyer for Mirza Ali, said the defendants believed they were legally entitled to buy and resell the software in the manner they did and plan to appeal.

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