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4 Charged in $100-Million Phony Computer Products Scam


Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles announced Friday that they had seized counterfeit computer products and software valued at more than $100 million, calling it the largest such seizure in U.S. history.

Authorities arrested four people during the past two weeks in connection with the case. They were believed to be part of a ring that moved the merchandise from Asia to Los Angeles, authorities said.

Some of the alleged counterfeit products included suspected knockoffs of Windows XP, Windows 2000 NT and Microsoft Office 2000 Pro software, along with manuals, user license agreements, decals for windows and bar code labels, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

"It was everything they needed" to pass off the merchandise as authentic, Robison said.

Authorities also said there were copies of Symantec products, including the Norton anti-virus software.

U.S. customs agents arrested Vincent Koo, 44, Tony Lu, 47, and Wilson Liu, 39, on Nov. 6 as part of an 18-month undercover investigation. All three were arraigned in federal court on charges of conspiracy, bribery and smuggling, and each was released on $50,000 bond.

A fourth suspect, Lisa Chen, was arrested Nov. 9 by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies. Chen is being held in lieu of $17-million bond on charges of counterfeiting a registered trademark.

"She's just one of the many soldiers out there," said Rod Staudinger, a Customs Service assistant special agent. He said an undercover customs agent accepted bribes to allow smugglers to ship merchandise into the country.

Chen had an international flight itinerary when officials with the Southern California Regional High Tech Task Force arrested her, said Darren Harris, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.

The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected, he said.

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