Newark Woman Pleads Guilty to Operating Software Piracy Websites
Jamie Lynn Snyder, age 34, of Newark, Delaware, pled guilty today to one count of criminal copyright infringement for her role in operating a group of websites that were unlawfully selling hundreds of popular computer software products. Snyder, who will be sentenced on March 5, 2012 by United States District Judge Sue L. Robinson, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of nearly $2 million. Snyder also faces a term of up to three years of supervised release following her prison sentence.
According to statements made at today’s hearing and documents filed in court, the FBI identified a group of websites operated by Snyder that were selling hundreds of popular software titles at a fraction of their retail value. The websites, which Snyder operated from her Newark residence, were located at www.cheapestsoftwareanywhere.com and www.cheapestlegalsoftware.com, and included the tagline “You won’t find it legal and cheaper.” The FBI made undercover purchases of over 20 software titles from websites. Included among the purchased software were some of the most popular titles manufactured by Microsoft and Adobe. The FBI also received numerous complaints from consumers across the country who believed they were lawfully purchasing software from the website, only to learn that Snyder’s websites were not authorized to sell the software, which could not be updated properly or registered with the manufacturers. In fact, the professional-looking websites also contained various statements attesting to their legitimacy and lawful sale of the software to consumers.
The FBI’s investigation further revealed that Snyder’s websites processed $971,935.10 in unlawful software transactions between February 26, 2008 and March 3, 2010. The proceeds from these sales were deposited into Snyder’s bank accounts, and were used to fund Snyder’s lifestyle and her operational expenses, including tens of thousands of dollars to prominently advertise the websites on Facebook, MySpace, Google, and Yahoo.
In April 2010, the FBI executed a search warrant at Snyder’s Newark residence and interviewed Snyder. During that interview, Snyder confessed to operating the websites while knowing that it was unlawful for her to sell the software titles without authorization. She estimated that she was advertising approximately 400 software titles on the website, and had been earning approximately $25,000 to $35,000 per month from sales over past two years.
Following the plea hearing, United States Attorney Charles M. Oberly, III, stated, “Fueled by the Internet, American companies lose billions of dollars each year to the unlawful distribution of products that they invent and manufacture. What Snyder did from computers in her living room is digital theft, and a serious federal felony that we will prosecute vigorously.”