|Xbox-Scene.Com: Moderator Gets Busted For PiracyPublished by forahobby on Monday, December 11, 2006
Tagged: Gaming, Homebrew, Xbox 360,
Operating out of a Newark home cluttered with DVD burners, computer towers and piles of blank discs, like countless other high-tech thieves pirating computer game software, authorities say.
But, those authorities say, he was a thief with a difference. He would not only sell customers pirated DVDs for Microsoft's Xbox 360 game. For $60, he would modify an Xbox console so it would not reject counterfeit software, they said.
Investigators estimate the pirate had thousands of customers before the Essex County Prosecutor's Office raided his home and arrested him yesterday.
"He was one of our higher profile targets in the area," said Robert Hunter, manager of intellectual property enforcement for the Entertainment Software Association, whose investigators keyed in.
The pirate was arrested in the three-story home on Mount Prospect Avenue he shared with his mother and other family members. He was charged with violating New Jersey's anti-piracy act, a third-degree offense that can carry up to five years in prison.
Ford Livengood, a deputy chief assistant prosecutor, said there is no statute prohibiting the modification of the consoles, but the pirating itself falls under the act.
Hunter said pirating of entertainment software is a $3-billion-a-year industry worldwide. He said Xbox consoles retail for anywhere from $250 to $600 depending on the exact product, and games run from $30 to $60. The consoles are designed so they will not play counterfeit software.
On the Internet, the pirate allegedly was offering pirated games for $20, supplying the software through the postal service or by e-mail. He also offered his customers the option either to buy modified consoles or to bring their existing consoles to him for alteration, authorities said.
Alerted by Hunter's sleuths in early November, the prosecutor's economic crime and official corruption unit sent undercover officers, led by investigators Ana Martins and Bruce Davis, to his home to do business with him.
In one transaction, the officers bought a modified Xbox console and three pirated games for $545, authorities said.
"He had the ability to take the console, pop it open and take out the hard drive to modify it for the playing of pirated games," Livengood said.
When they raided his home, investigators seized DVD burners, computer towers, modified consoles and hundreds of pirated games. Prosecutors said he had been pirating software for about six years, but they were not able to estimate his income from the scheme.
Livengood said it is unknown whether Ramirez had a background in computers. Hunter said it takes a certain degree of sophistication to modify the consoles, which he said can be done through hardware or software. He said devices for accomplishing the task are available from illicit dealers worldwide.
Superior Court Judge John Kennedy set bail at $15,000. Livengood said he was being processed at the Essex County Jail yesterday afternoon.
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