Mum and daughter in Wirral Microsoft fraud A MOTHER and daughter were targeted by Microsoft investigators after selling computers loaded with illegal software.
Kathleen Boardman, 49, of Wervin Road, Kirkby, and Lauren Blenner Hassett, 23, of Nickelby Close, Toxteth, pleaded guilty to copyright infringement offences at Wirral magistrates court.
The court heard Boardman was a director of Katech Ltd and her daughter a company secretary, with shops in Liscard Road and Charing Cross, Birkenhead.
In May 2008 undercover investigators from Microsoft bought two computers, taking them away for examination and alerting Wirral Trading Standards.
Representing the council, Ken Abraham said normally software comes on a Microsoft CD, with an authenticity label and a “product key” string of numbers to input.
He said: “The computers were pre-loaded with Windows XP and Microsoft Office and copies of the operating system Vista were found.
“Microsoft confirmed they were counterfeit and they also found an authenticity label in the till. There was no need for this other than it being used to attach to computers and sold on to the public.”
When arrested Boardman told officers that she was a director in name only and her husband had been the driving force behind the operation.
She also said many people could not afford original software.
Andrew Boardman is currently in custody on unrelated matters and did not form part of the prosecution.
Defending the women Matthew Reynolds said: “These ladies are the unwitting stooges of Mr Boardman. There is nothing to trace him to the control of the business on paper.
“They went from being shop assistants to directors overnight, but there were responsibilities they should have been aware of. There has to be a big difference between someone who acts willfully and someone who is ignorant of their responsibilities.”
The business (unrelated to Katech International Ltd) folded. Microsoft estimated the costs of the investigation at more than £14,000.
The women will be sentenced on December 17. THE ECHO