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Software Pirate Sells Counterfeit Quicken and Turbo Tax Programs Through eBay
Written: June 8, 2011

Brandon C. Davis, 31 had this idea – a vision, a dream, if you will. It started with his purchases of Quicken and Turbo Tax software, which are manufactured by Intuit Inc. Davis acquired the tax preparation software through online download or the old-school purchase of a CD. The products that he purchased came to him with a whole batch of labels and warnings about copyright protection. Those notices were there for a reason. Boiled down to the basics: Don’t even think about counterfeiting this.

Alas, Davis thought about it and then some.

Copycat

Davis made a whole batch of copies of Intuit’s original, copyrighted software. CD for which he created counterfeit packaging and counterfeit labels. In fact, he made lots of CDs; all of which lacked Intuit’s permission.

So far, bad enough, but, in time, it gets worse for Davis. He sells his counterfeit tax software on eBay. The bucks roll in and, ever good to his word, Davis mails the counterfeit products to the buyers.

Amateur Lawyer, Amateur Results

Now, our young entrepreneur seemed to have had an inkling – just a tickle or an itch, but, still, he had that twitch – that he was doing something wrong, maybe even illegal .Okay, hmmm, maybe this counterfeiting thing could get me in trouble?

Perhaps Davis was told by a friend who knew this dentist who had a patient who was a receptionist at a company that had a lawyer who said that middlemen should disclaim their roles as agents of a given principal. Whatever, our intrepid counterfeiter apparently believed that he could legally protect himself when he sometimes included a disclaimer with his merchandise that stated he was merely acting as a broker for another seller. Of course, not only was that a false representation but, frankly, pretty useless when it comes to fending off lawsuits or criminal prosecutions. 

Not content with merely misrepresenting himself as not the actual seller, Davis also falsely represented on eBay that he was selling original Intuit software. You know, original as in the stuff that Intuit made, packaged, and sold. Of course the Davis brand was counterfeit but let’s not quibble. Also, unlike his higher-priced legitimate competitor, Davis was able to offer his tax preparation line at prices below manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

OMG . . . LOL

Then there’s this one other little slip up. Frankly, it sort of put a smile on my face. Here we have a guy counterfeiting tax preparation software and, lo and behold, Davis failed to report the income from those sales when he filed his income tax returns for 2008 and 2009.

Eject

On June 6, 2011, in federal court in the Southern District of Ohio, Davis, 31, pleaded guilty to:

  • one count of mail fraud ,
  • one count of copyright infringement, and
  • two counts of filing a false income tax return

in connection with sales of more than $1 million worth of counterfeit financial and tax preparation software through an Internet auction site.

At sentencing, Davis faces maximum penalties of:

  • 20 years in prison for the mail fraud charge,
  • five years in prison for the copyright infringement charge, and
  • up to three years in prison for each tax charge.

Also, Davis agreed to a money judgment and tax lien of $80,074 and to pay restitution in an amount to be determined by the court. He also agreed to forfeit all computer items used to manufacture and distribute the fake software, a 2006 Hummer ,and $192,117 that was seized from his bank accounts. Sentencing is scheduled for September 2011.


 
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