Reporting Serene Branson
LONG BEACH (CBS) — Investigators Wednesday arrested a man accused of trying to sell counterfeit software during a sting at a Long Beach coffee shop.
After L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies got into position, they spotted their undercover agent outside a Long Beach coffee house. Then their primary target walked in and the agent followed.
Once the transaction was complete, deputies and Homeland Security agents moved in.
“We had a undercover purchase product from this guy in the past. We came back today and we ordered a whole bunch of product from him. He brought us a significant amount of counterfeit Microsoft product,” said Detective Kevin Olive, with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Counterfeit and Piracy Enforcement (CAPE) team.
Their target Wednesday was Joshua Fountain, 25, of Long Beach, who detectives said was selling counterfeit software on Craigslist for $300.
Office and the Photoshop Creative Suite retail for more than four times that.
After the bust went down, deputies and agents got permission from the suspect to search his Long Beach residence. Inside they found additional discs that could be counterfeit software.
“It was a small place, but we found where he makes the discs. He had a bunch of blank CDs,” Olive said.
We asked Fountain if the discs belonged to him while police were taking him away. “No comment,” he replied.
Deputies said Fountain was already on parole for a vehicle theft, so he will likely face state prison time.
Microsoft, who uses consultants to work with law enforcement on busts like this, said in a statement, “It’s about protecting intellectual property but also, spurring local economic growth, as well as safeguarding consumers’ interests and the success of local companies.”
“Counterfeiting harms us, the taxpayers. It hurts mom and pop shops, because it’s lost tax revenue that is unaccounted for,” Olive said.
Now, investigators are tracing some counterfeiting operations to gangs and cartels because of the profit margins.
But the criminals are not the only ones that law enforcement has their eye on — buyers are also being targeted.
Olive had some advice for those thinking about purchasing such counterfeit software.
“Don’t, because we’re looking for you,” he warmed. “You’re trying to save a nickel and dime, but in the long run you’re hurting us. You’re hurting the economy.”