Danny Ferrer of Lakeland, Florida did nothing to hide the fact that he was selling illegal software online. In fact, he prominently advertised the sales on popular search engines. But his venture came to an abrupt halt when the FBI descended upon his operation in late 2005. An FBI investigation determined that Ferrer had been running a for-profit Web site selling counterfeit and illegal copies of software such as Adobe and Autodesk. In fact, Ferrer sold more than $20 million worth of copyrighted software products on www.BuyUSA.com at prices substantially lower than the suggested retail price. “Buy USA was a Web site that I initially set up towards the very, very end of 2002, actually it was more like 2003 where people could purchase copies of some of Adobe’s software, such as Photoshop 7, Illustrator, other high-dollar software at greatly reduced prices.”
The software products purchased on the Web site were reproduced on CDs and distributed through the mail. On the CD-R discs, Ferrer included labels that featured trademarks of the legitimate software companies and had a serial number that allowed the purchaser to activate and use the product, tactics that were meant to dupe the consumer. Ferrer and his co-conspirators pocketed more than $4.1 million selling copyrighted software that was used to purchase luxury cars, numerous airplanes, a helicopter, and boats. These items were all confiscated by the FBI.
Ferrer was sentenced in federal court to six years in prison and 50 hours of community service. Additionally, Ferrer had to pay more than $4.1 million in restitution for the nearly $20 million in loss of sales to the software publishers.