Is there anything I can do about these people? RRS feed

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  • Hi, I`m new here.  But I have a problem with Windows Operating System pirates.  There are one or two groups on facebook from my home town which gear towards the selling of computer hardware and software but mostly desktops and laptops.  It is run by a few local hobbyists who have no formal qualifiactions in computer technicianary.  They will either swop your non-working laptop or desktop with something that works but is inferior in spec (then fixing the non-working one and selling that one on).  Or they may post up pictures and specs of computers that they have built.

    The problem I had was that I saw a computer that I was interested in.  The spec was very good for the asking price, but the operating system was Windows 7 Ultimate.  The price was very low for a computer that had that OS.  When I questioned this chap (who sells quite a lot of computers on this group) about the genuine status of the PC he wanted to know why I wanted to know.  I explained that I wanted to make sure it was genuine.  The person private messages me asking if I was being sarcastic.

    This tells me that the OS is most likely pirated, as anyone who is selling genuine would say that it was without being funny about it. And would even post a picture of the OS case or sticker (serial greyed out) on the side of the PC.

    Trouble is, I know of several people who upgrade laptops with pirated Windows on the group in quite large numbers, because they always seem to avoid the question of legallity.  I have since been banned from the group, but I am concerned about people buying from these groups and getting ripped off or losing their files or something.

    What can I do?

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 10:27 AM

All replies

  • You can report them to MS at http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/howtotell/default.aspx

    I take it you're in the US? The FBI are responsible for counterfeit software there. Since these people seem to be attempting to profit from it - if any of them are actual businesses, your local BBB may be worth a chat to.

    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    No - I do not work for Microsoft, or any of its contractors.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 11:08 AM
  • I`m actually from the UK.  I have the uk email address and I usually use that to report key sellers who sell on ebay or those dodgy websites selling MSDN keys.  I have met with one of the representatives from Reading personally, so they know who I am there.  I just thought that because these people are doing it just for extra cash and not really a business as such there wasn`t much that Microsoft could do.

    How could I report them via the uk piracy email giving just their names, as there are no address details or anything, just this facebook group?

    Thanks though, I thought that perhaps that would be the only thing I could do.  I make it my hobby to report these people, as when I was running my own computer repair business it was partly due to these miscreants that I went out of business, as I could not compete with them.

    Out of interest, I know of one or two websites selling XBOX 360 backups.  Could use the same email address for them as well?

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 2:02 PM
  • The piracy@ email address is a black hole now, so far as I know - the last few times I tried using it I got an 'unmonitored account' response.

    If you have another one that actually works, I'd be grateful for it - as far as I was aware, the only reporting avenue was the HowToTell pages.

    In the UK, there's Trading Standards for any businesses you spot, but as you indicate there's little they or MS can do about the 'hobbyist' counterfeiter/pirate. Putting out warnings about such groups as you seem to have found is likely only to give them publicity, but if their web presence breaks any of the rules, then they could be vulnerable to a 'Take Down' notice to their webhosts.

    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    No - I do not work for Microsoft, or any of its contractors.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 2:35 PM
  • I have had automatic replies to the ukpiracy @ email everytime I have sent something.  And when last I had a phone call from someone in Reading they have looked into their system and mentioned that they have recieved my reports.  So I`ll probably continue to use it.

    As its a facebook group that I`m concerned about, the only people that can usually do something about it is facebook themselves.  And if the group is told to close then it`ll open up as a different name.  Like you say, I don`t want to warn others because it gives them publicity but what am I to do.  I cannot turn a blind eye to it, there have been a few of those who have bought from their page that have come to me when I have still been running my business - saying that `they bought this laptop from a guy on facebook` only to have it say its non genuine - and asking `Can you do something about it because I feel a bit ripped off.`  I have simply told them, take it back to the guy who ripped you off, tell the police, or you can pay £150 to me and I`ll put a genuine windows licence on it, or you can try to use the serial that is already on the laptop (if they`re lucky).

    More often than not, they have said, `I`m not paying that, its more than what I paid for the laptop.`

    There you go.  Its why the pirates keep on winning and making money.

    People have asked me `Why do you bother.  They won`t stop.` I have also been threatened to have my face kicked in if I didn`t stop telling people that they are being ripped off.  (But I`m not worried as I`m a student of Karate.  Lol).

    No, I won`t stop.  John from Microsofts department in Reading once told me, `You keep on doing what you`re doing, you`re doing fine?`  I once spent £49 of my own money to buy a dodgy copy of windows from some website seller, just so I could send it to Ireland.  I got rewarded with a nice copy of Windows 7 Ultimate for my trouble.  I wouldn`t do that again though.  But it`s nice being told by someone high up in Microsoft that I`m doing a good job, even though I`m only doing it because its something I feel is wrong.

    If I see someone selling pirated windows, or selling a PC with pirated windows - business or hobbyist I`m gonna report them.  Because somewhere down the line, people are getting hurt because of it.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 5:16 PM
  • Ah - I never used the ukpiracy addie so I'll have to try it next time (I'm a few miles from Chester). It's been a few years since I had a guided tour of Reading HQ as an MVP - we had some interesting chats with a few of the staff (and a lot of ale was consumed :) )

    I generally find that the customers are unaware they've been ripped off until something goes wrong and the Loader fails for some reason - it's then way too late to complain to the vendor, as mostly they've disappeared into the woodwork. The latest con is the 'refurbished' laptop - with a Vista COA sticker with the OS details erased and Win7 installed with a Loader - with a spurious 'refurb' sticker on it.

    I've basically given up building systems nowadays - unless they are very custom, it's far cheaper to buy off-the-peg than from a one-man-band, so I encourage them to buy a decent machine and then bring it to me for setup :)

    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    No - I do not work for Microsoft, or any of its contractors.

    Sunday, March 17, 2013 5:57 PM