Home > Email Scams > Counterfeit Software

Counterfeit Software

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 12 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Software Counterfeit Software Pirated

You've probably frequently received spam e-mail offering you software at a fraction of its cost in high street shops. It can be anything from Windows XP to Adobe Photoshop. At times the price might seem tempting, especially if you're on a budget. But in most cases these are illegal programmes. Not only might they not work properly, there's a good possibility they could actively damage your computer and lead to identity theft. Pirated and counterfeit software is a huge global problem. In Western Europe alone it costs about £2 billion annually.

How It Works

You receive a spam e-mail solicitation offering you cheap software, at a very attractive price. You reply and agree to buy, paying at a web site by credit card. In return you receive either a download or a CD in the mail and install the software. That seems straightforward, but what have you actually done?

What It Means

Counterfeit software is one way organised crime in Eastern Europe and Asia launder their money. By purchasing it, you're helping them solve their problems. Also, you're taking on trust that what you receive - and the CD you get will likely be a CD-R or burned copy, with no supporting documentation - is what they claim. How do you know that what you ordered is exactly what you received? It's quite common for the anti-spyware,, for example, to be largely ineffective, or even malicious, installing its own spyware on your system, so the criminals can steal your information (and don't forget, they already have your credit card information).

How To Identify Counterfeit Software

It's not always easy to distinguish to real from the fake. But these tips might help you:
  • The price. Ask yourself why it's so cheap.
  • How is it packaged? If it's CD-R discs in cheap sleeves, with none of the manufacturer's logs, it's counterfeit.
  • What type of software is it? If it's marketed as OEM, NFR or academic versions, beware. OEM software is intended only to be sold with new hardware, such as a new computer, NFR (not for resale) are evaluation copies, and academic versions are intended only for teachers and students.
  • Can it be registered? If not, it's a fake.
  • If it's advertised as a "backup copy" it's counterfeit.
  • Is there a warranty? Legitimate software and retailers always offer one.

How To Avoid Being Scammed

Besides simply not responding to this spam, there are ways to avoid being the victim of software counterfeiters.
  • Look at the web site. Does it claim that their software is legal? If they even need to make the claim, they're probably counterfeiters.
  • How long have they been in business, and where is the site registered? Be especially careful if the address bar on your browser displays a numerical IP address (e.g. /68.37.33.167) rather than a real domain name when you visit the company's site.
  • Does their site provide a landline phone number and a street address? A legitimate company will show both.
  • Read the user agreement. All too often these companies will include a clause that doesn't permit you to charge back on your credit card is the software. If you see this, stop the transaction immediately.

What Happens If You're Scammed

  • You will be ineligible for software updates and technical support from the manufacturer.
  • You might simply not receive the software you'd paid for.
  • You might end up having your credit card number stolen. Check your statements carefully and challenge any activity that seems unusual.
  • You may well be installing spyware on your computer. If you seek an anti-spyware programme, there are some good ones out there. But go to a trusted site.
There are some legitimate software deals on the Internet. But the best rules of thumb are if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is, and you get what you pay for. Use caution and common sense, and investigate thoroughly before you spend your money.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • linxu
    Re: Vishing Scam
    if i only have fee to pay card reference number,can I pay online? Because I can only provide accurate payment reference number and amounts, the address…
    25 July 2019
  • Angry666
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call. . I asked for his name. Location ID and what department. . He hung up. . 0114 number. Reported to sky. But they ain't interested.…
    19 July 2019
  • John
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had call from and ethnic man named Joseph. Refund on my Sky account asking DOB gave completely wrong one he took it. Then asked for expiry date on…
    25 June 2019
  • Cadbury
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from " sky". My breakdown ! First clue GOOD AFTERNOON It was 11 am Cover is ending. Buy now £150 for two years. Cannot pay direct debit. But one…
    18 June 2019
  • jacques73
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a call from a person named Kelly who said she was from Sky maintenance and that my cover was about to expire. Said they were doing a deal on…
    30 May 2019
  • Norbs
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from ‘Sky tv’, we will change your box because we have had lots of complaints about it. Security check - what is your date of birth? OK because you…
    23 May 2019
  • Dusty
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Call from 01254 786422 stating calling from sky to say they had been having difficulties with sky boxes and they were updating a they would send out a…
    14 April 2019
  • Doccon
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had a Man claiming to be from Sky telling me I was about to receive a new sky box it would arrive Staurday as SKY had received many compliants…
    10 April 2019
  • Ray
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Just had Indian lady claiming to be from Sky telling me I was about to receive a new sky box....I was asked my d.o.b and sort code(for verification) I…
    16 March 2019
  • Cols
    Re: Sky TV Scam
    Had a phone call from "Sky Protect" today offering a huge discount on Sky equipment insurance. "Paul" wanted my card numbers. I refused to give them,…
    4 February 2019