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Intellectual Property Rights

HSI agents arrests fugitive on copyright infringement charges

BALTIMORE – Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested a Baltimore man late Tuesday on charges of illegally reproducing and distributing more than 100 copyrighted commercial software programs.

Naveed Sheikh, 31, had been aware that he was under investigation and had fled to Pakistan shortly before being indicted on Jan. 13, 2011. He remained a fugitive until his arrest by HSI on Jan. 31 at Dulles International Airport, where he was attempting to enter the United States.

Sheikh made an initial appearance at U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia Wednesday afternoon, where he was detained pending a detention hearing on Feb. 3. The indictment seeks the forfeiture of $265,000 and any property derived from or traceable to the proceeds of the scheme. Sheikh faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. No date has been set for his appearance in Maryland.

According to the indictment, from February 2004 to April 2008, Sheikh infringed copyrights by reproducing and distributing more than 100 copyrighted commercial software programs for which he allegedly received over $265,000. The copyrighted works are estimated to be worth millions of dollars.

Sheikh allegedly advertised through his Internet website and sold infringing copyrighted commercial software at prices well below the suggested retail prices of legitimate, authorized copies of the software. Some of the copyrighted works included Microsoft Money 2006 Small Business, Adobe After Effects Pro 7.0, Veritas NetBackUp Pro 5.1, Solid Works Office 2000 Premium, Quicken Premier Home and Business 2006, and Apple iLife 2006.

The indictment alleges that Sheikh advised purchasers that software programs could be mailed to purchasers on compact discs and downloaded from the Internet. He caused the creation of DVD-Rs and CD-Rs with copyright infringing software programs and crack codes. Crack codes allow an individual to modify software to remove or disable security protections. Sheikh allegedly requested that purchasers send money orders for infringing software to a post office box he maintained in Towson, Md. Sheikh also permitted customers to pay for infringing software through credit card charges and electronic fund transfers. Sheikh paid a company that hosted Internet domains to register multiple Internet domains, including ezencode.com, lazer-toners.com, and coark.net. His computer server, which was physically located in Scranton, Pa., hosted his website. Sheikh used computers in Bel Air, Md., and other computers to contact and control his computer server.

The investigation was conducted by HSI, FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Harry Gruber is prosecuting the case.