Microsoft, Best Buy face revived racketeering charges

Pop quiz: What do Microsoft and Best Buy and John Gotti and Michael Milken have in common? Surprisingly, all four have at one time or another been charged with racketeering under the 1970 RICO Act, with the former two entities facing revived charges surrounding an alleged ongoing fraud that began more than seven years ago. Specifically, San Francisco's 9th US Circuit of Appeals has "reversed and remanded" an earlier dismissal of a suit in which plaintiff James Odom claimed that Microsoft and Best Buy colluded to sign him and other unsuspecting customers up for paid MSN subscriptions when they purchased a PC at the big box retailer. Although Microsoft began doling out refunds to those whose credit cards had been illicitly charged as early as 2003, interested parties still seem keen on winning a verdict against the software giant, and were seemingly unswayed by offers of increased Hotmail storage and free Zunes -- and now, as the case heads to US District Court in Seattle, even the mighty Geek Squad's powers are completely useless.

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