Alleged software pirate arrested

Maksym Kovalchuk, 25, of Ternopil, Ukraine, was nabbed Tuesday at an ice cream parlor. He was taken into custody with the aid of Royal Thai Police on a criminal complaint filed in San Jose, Calif., in 2000. Thai authorities identified Kovalchuk as Maksym Vysochanskyy.

In the complaint, Kovalchuk is charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods, copyright infringement, money laundering and possession of unauthorized credit card information.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges Kovalchuk sold counterfeit copies of software titles from companies such as Microsoft Corp., Autodesk, Adobe and Macromedia online. The retail value of the products pirated and sold, had they been authentic, would have been $3 million, authorities said.

Kovalchuk allegedly shipped some of the software to buyers affixed with counterfeit trademarks and company logos, while other CDs were shipped without any manuals or supporting documents, the U.S. attorney’s office said Wednesday in a statement.

Kovalchuk also allegedly used eBay’s online auction service to dupe other victims into paying for goods they never received. EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said the company began working with the San Francisco Electronic Crimes Task Force after the company noticed problems.

“We had identified suspicious behavior on our site,” Pursglove said. Someone was taking over the user accounts of eBay members and offering goods that were never shipped, he added.

Microsoft and Adobe were looking over details of the Bangkok arrest, but had no immediate comment on their involvement.

Kovalchuk faces 20 years imprisonment and a $500,000 fine if convicted of money laundering, the most serious charge he faces. The Justice Department has initiated extradition proceedings against Kovalchuk in Thailand.

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