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FBI Raids Homes and Seizes Bandwidth Pirates' PCs

CmdrTaco posted about 12 years ago | from the well-thats-not-very-fun dept.

News 815

Saturated Subnet writes "Recently in Toledo, OH FBI agents and a local police task force raided 13 residence and seized 23 computers. Some users of the local cable broadband provider had uncapped their cable modems." It appears to be a smaller ISP, and the article says these 23 people cost them a quarter of a million bucks. Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?

cancel ×


my rights off-line (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | about 12 years ago | (#3778551)

to say this:

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

First Post (-1, Troll)

Everspiff (258320) | about 12 years ago | (#3778553)

first post :)

I do! (-1, Troll)

Rober7 Pauls0n (568815) | about 12 years ago | (#3778554)

Who doesnt have time for pr0n???

Taco (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 12 years ago | (#3778580)

especially when miss fent is around :-)

$10,800 worth of pr0n? (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 12 years ago | (#3778555)

is the photograph of half a child...
you are disgusting, Taco.

3rd Post!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778562)

thats right - jESUS was a monkey!!

Alan Thicke DeAd (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | about 12 years ago | (#3778565)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon. []
He will be missed :(

Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

And they needed the FBI for this? (5, Insightful)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 12 years ago | (#3778567)

What happend to just cancelling their service?

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (5, Insightful)

dubiousmike (558126) | about 12 years ago | (#3778621)

Come on! The FBI now needs to do everything over the top.

Unless it involves protecting the US from terrorism, pre-9/11.

Now they will scurry to "protect national interests" like a small IP's "lost revenue".

That is kind of fuzzy, isn't it? I mean, did other customers go without bandwidth becuase of these few? Somehow, I doubt it.

Eh, what the heck. Let's increase their budget by 100%. This way they can start busting teens who crack the latest version of Dreamweaver.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778682)

I mean, did other customers go without bandwidth becuase of these few? Somehow, I doubt it.

The ISP pays for a certain amount of bandwidth; these guys used more of that than they paid for. They violated the contract. Maybe none of the other customers had to wait longer for their pr0n, but actual harm here is beside the point. If I fail to fix my known-to-be-failing brakes, and luckily plunge into the ocean instead of hitting anybody, I'm still a negligent f*** and deserve punishment ... actual harm is often beside the point.

Although you're right, I don't see why the FBI had to be involved here.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778750)

Could be, but in order to sue someone in a civil case there have to be damages. If someone does something "wrong" but causes you no damage, you cannot sue them.

A tort = wrong + damages.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (0, Flamebait)

shakah (78118) | about 12 years ago | (#3778625)

Do you have a problem with prosecution for theft of services?

Do you think it will be difficult to make a case that the alleged thieves could reasonably have been expected to know that uncapping their modems and "stealing" bandwith was illegal?

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (1)

restauff (168301) | about 12 years ago | (#3778675)

The question is, is it illegal, or just breach of contract? The cable modem industry is, as of yet, unregulated to my knowledge. The end user signs a service contract dictacting the bandwidth provides and terms of use. Should it not be the responsibility of the provider to monitor that contract, and take any action they have within their private jurisdiction to prevent this?

Also, where the $250,000 term come from? You would have to download a lot of stuff at really high speed to run up a bill that big.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (5, Insightful)

kaybee (101750) | about 12 years ago | (#3778640)

I agree... this is ridiculous. If they are stealing bandwith, stop them. Or, better yet, come up with a better system to prevent them from stealing bandwidth.

If you want to punish them, make them sign a contract that says they owe you a fine if they get caught stealing bandwidth. Then you can take them to civil court if you catch them.

Using the FBI and my tax dollars to interfere with a small problem between a few individuals and company really pisses me offe].

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (2)

iamplasma (189832) | about 12 years ago | (#3778703)

I'm not too sure if you can do that. I'm pretty sure that over here at least that onerous penalty clauses are not allowed, all you can have is "estimated damages". Whatever the case, it's not the ISPs fault they didn't consider the potential for theft, it's the fault of the thieves, and it's completely fair to prosecute someone stealing thousands of dollars worth of bandwidth. Blame the offender, not the victim.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | about 12 years ago | (#3778650)

all people in ohio are terrorists anyway. Have you been to Columbus? A hotbed of insurrection. They should bomb the whole f'king city.

And what about the 'Nati? Bombs would be wasted on that post-apocalyptic wasteland.

To scare people (5, Insightful) (142825) | about 12 years ago | (#3778659)

The cable company wanted to scare people.

One FBI raid = 10,000 disconections.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (1)

GnomeKing (564248) | about 12 years ago | (#3778670)

What happened to just cancelling their service?

And in other news, instead of punishment, axe murderers are just prohibitted from carrying axes

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (1)

restauff (168301) | about 12 years ago | (#3778695)

Last time I checked, murdering people with an axe (or any other implement) was illegal and a punishable offense. I am not an expert on law, however it was my impression that the only thing happening here was the operation of a device outside of a contract. This seems more like a civil matter, rather than the jurisdiction of the FBI.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778748)

in regard to the axe, you missed the joke the guy was making.

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778678)

What happend to just cancelling their service?

Got spammed? What happened to just hitting the delete key?

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (1, Offtopic)

Wolfier (94144) | about 12 years ago | (#3778684)

Dude, if I stole something from your house, would you just tell me not to carry a crowbar anymore, without returning what I've stolen?

Re:And they needed the FBI for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778724)

I have to agree this is something that should be handled in civil court and not a criminal court. And even if it is held to be criminal, it should be a LOCAL criminal case. I see no reason to get the Feds in on this. Seems more like a "garden-variety" crime (similar to exceeding the speed limit - using more road bandwidth than you should in a given time period).

who? (5, Funny)

DanThe1Man (46872) | about 12 years ago | (#3778568)

Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?

Oh sure Taco, as soon as you find a girl to marry you, you forget what it was like to be a single geek.

Re:who? (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | about 12 years ago | (#3778615)

Oh, Taco still a single geek. Unless you really think posting marriage proposal on a crappy website attracts women.

ACID TEST... (-1)

Yr0 (224662) | about 12 years ago | (#3778661)

will anyone marry me?

Re:ACID TEST... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778704)

I will.

You're a purty female with big tits right?

Re:ACID TEST... (0, Offtopic)

DanThe1Man (46872) | about 12 years ago | (#3778719)

by Yr0 (y o u a r e a p i l e o f p o o) on 09:02 AM -- Thursday June 27 2002 (#3778661)
(User #224662 Info)
will anyone marry me?

No, no one likes you Yr0. Unless you are a female, then a lot of us would. An average female that reads slashdot is sexier than a nude supermodel on the roof of her lamborghini roadster.

Re:who? (2, Funny)

Bob McCown (8411) | about 12 years ago | (#3778665)

Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?

Havent been unemployed, have you Taco?

and more pointedly.. (5, Insightful)

MattW (97290) | about 12 years ago | (#3778572)

Who's going to use buckeye cable after it is known they have their customers arrested? Who's to say they didn't make the mistake? Someone complains of high ping, tech tampers with modem, and a few months later, the customer goes to jail? There's service with a smile. Thanks, but if I heard that, I'd certainly be looking at my DSL providers.

Re:and more pointedly.. (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | about 12 years ago | (#3778610)

Nobody was arrested and no charges were filed. They did confiscate computer equipment though so I would expect charges will be filed later to justify the seizure.

Re:and more pointedly.. (1)

rhost89 (522547) | about 12 years ago | (#3778612)

No kidding, when my freind had his cable modem installed, the instalation tech uncapped it FOR US after talking to us and figureing out that we wernt your average users. It would realy suck to have the FBI beating down your door because your providor broke your service contract.

Re:and more pointedly.. (1)

HowlinMad (220943) | about 12 years ago | (#3778616)

did you read the article? They noticed this in February and started in investigate this. Obviously they were doing something serious, or they would not had their computer comfiscated. Also, no one went to jail. it says in the article that NO arrest were made.

Re:and more pointedly.. (2)

extra88 (1003) | about 12 years ago | (#3778720)

If they had done something serious they *would have* been arrested. I don't think there was any need to take their computers, the cable modems themselves would be the evidence. Taking all the computers is standard way law enforcement acts as judge and jury for computer-related crimes. Do you think any of those people will get their computers back anytime soon, regardless of whether they're prosecuted or not?

Re:and more pointedly.. (1)

HowlinMad (220943) | about 12 years ago | (#3778754)

well maybe they should have thought about that before they started stealing the service.

Re:and more pointedly.. (1)

SN74S181 (581549) | about 12 years ago | (#3778712)

Well, I for one have no plan to 'pirate' any cable provider who I subscribe to. I'd just as soon subscribe to a service where the admins are competent enough that the resources I pay for aren't leaking out to bandwidth hogs who aren't paying for it.

No bank robberies this week! (1)

burnsy (563104) | about 12 years ago | (#3778573)

Must have been a slow crime week in Toledo.

TOS (2, Insightful)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | about 12 years ago | (#3778575)

So the users broke the TOS of their ISP. That's what happens.

If you drove down the highway at 300 km/h (180 mph) and thought it was perfectly alright because it's your car and you can tinker with it if you want, should you get caught?

No, the roads are governmentally (and thus publicly) owned.

Re:TOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778602)

No, the roads are governmentally (and thus publicly) owned.

The ISP's bandwidth-capped last-mile lines aren't.

Huh? (3, Interesting)

HowlinMad (220943) | about 12 years ago | (#3778576)

"It's against the law. It's a crime we are going to enforce," the detective said.

ANd the article says that no arrests were made..... sounds like some enforcing to me.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778656)

usually detectives enforce laws, not the crimes.
I better uncap my modem so I don't get arrested.

Re:Huh? (1, Troll)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#3778673)

If the detective said that, he should probably go back to school and find that LAWS are what he is to enforce. Not crimes. If he wants to enforce crimes, go work for the White House.

Re:Huh? (2)

anthony_dipierro (543308) | about 12 years ago | (#3778696)

ANd the article says that no arrests were made..... sounds like some enforcing to me.

They had their computers taken away... Sounds like enough punishment to me.

And you live in... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778577)

...the most democratic, free nation on Earth...

you're wrong... (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | about 12 years ago | (#3778599)

...they live in AmeriKKKa ;-)

Again with the smarmy comments. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778588)

Why do the Slashdot Editers [sic] insist on adding vapid commentary to articles they post. Taco's miny tirade ads no value to the article whatsoever.

Making snide comments must be their way of bolstering their low self-esteem.

By the way, Taco, LNUX at $0.82 per share.

Property crime? Fraud? (2)

Lysander Luddite (64349) | about 12 years ago | (#3778589)

"It's against the law. It's a crime we are going to enforce," the detective said.

Although no arrests were made and no charges filed.

So what is the crime exactly? Is it a property crime? Fraud? Misdemeanor?

I keep thinking of the Simposn's episode where Homer eats the "All you can eat" fish fry out of business and gets hauled into court.

Re:Property crime? Fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778631)

And it's exactly like that Simpsons episode! Wow, this really makes me mad!

Oh, wait, except it's not an "all the bandwidth you can use" kind of contract when one pays for a certain level of service with an ISP and one fraudulently obtains a higher level of service.

Re:Property crime? Fraud? (3, Informative)

dinivin (444905) | about 12 years ago | (#3778648)

I keep thinking of the Simposn's episode where Homer eats the "All you can eat" fish fry out of business and gets hauled into court.

Too bad you have it completely backwards... He didn't eat them out of business. They stopped feeding him after a while so he sued them.


Re:Property crime? Fraud? (2)

extra88 (1003) | about 12 years ago | (#3778649)

I believe there are laws against "theft of service." This would be roughly equivalent to connecting to your town's power grid and using electricity without paying for it. Unfortunately the prosecution probably won't take an individual's actual bandwidth use into account, only the fact that their cable modem has been tampered with to remove the cap. Or maybe they won't prosecute at all, they dole out punishment simply by confiscating the computers which they'll hold on to for years.

Pr0n (2, Interesting)

Dilbert_ (17488) | about 12 years ago | (#3778590)

I'm sure they did more than just download pr0n, there's only so much of that stuff you can enjoy before needing a 'break'... Bet they were running pr0n sites of their own or something. Why else get the cops involved?

Re:Pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778751)

because they were obviously dangerous subversives and had MP3s, VCDs and pirated games on their computers. hell may as well raid every broadband user then :-)

Why seize the computer? (3, Interesting)

Slashamatic (553801) | about 12 years ago | (#3778598)

The thingy that was untapped was the broadband modem .NOT. the computer. Given the way some of these things are reprogrammed, the user's computer's may have had nothing to do with it as the modems are remotely configurable.

I guess the FBI needs to look for scripts or something, because without that, nobody can prove that the end-user did it.

Re:Why seize the computer?...Pr0n (1, Offtopic)

toupsie (88295) | about 12 years ago | (#3778672)

The thingy that was untapped was the broadband modem .NOT. the computer.

Hey the FBI likes to look at pr0n too! Look how often they out there searching for kiddie pr0n. These guys really, really like looking at nekkid people while sending non-FBI types to jail for doing the same thing.

Re:Why seize the computer? (1)

shadow303 (446306) | about 12 years ago | (#3778680)

I think they just like to take PCs if they can find an excuse. I had a friend who got in trouble because of counterfitting (he did it as a gag, but a stupid guy he gave it to tried to spend it). Anyway, when he got raided, they took his PC, even though he did the counterfitting with his Mac.

Re:Why seize the computer? (1)

seann (307009) | about 12 years ago | (#3778683)

like if you made a tiny device that downloaded terabytes of files, into nothing.

Wouldn't that piss them off eh?
"Grab his computer!"
'it's not hooked up to the internet and it doesn't have an ethernet card'
"But the scans show he's still downloading"
*pan out and over to the cable modem in the floor on the corner. A tiny matchbox device with a rats tail of a cord hanging out of the end."
'my god! It was all for nothing!'

FBI fishing trip (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778708)

The computers were siezed so that the FBI can go "fishing" on more of the user's private property for illegal or "inconvenient" material. More evidence=better negotiating position when the ACLU shows up.

This tactic has been used by LEOs (Law Enforcement Officers) since the invention of the donut :)

Re:Why seize the computer? (0)

hatrisc (555862) | about 12 years ago | (#3778731)

did he own the modem? if he owns the modem... (which you can buy, right?) he can't be arrested for tampering with it. the only thing he did was exceed the bandwidth cap... so they can only cancel service... unless of course he is renting the modem, which would be assault of a broadband device... which in texas is like 15 years minimum...

$23 million? (2)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | about 12 years ago | (#3778600)

For some extra broadband??

The credibility of those companies who claim damages from abuses on the Internet would be greatly improved if they did'nt over-exagerate their losses.

Re:$23 million? (1)

Westley (99238) | about 12 years ago | (#3778647)

No, $250,000 "stolen" by 23 people. Hence the $10,800 figure.

The credibility of those /. posters who complain about companies would be greatly improved if they read things properly...


Cable ISP's are stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778606)

Why don't they limit bandwidth at the routers? To rely on a user's modem to control bandwidth is just asking for abuse.

So why slashdot ? (1)

mystran (545374) | about 12 years ago | (#3778611)

Why this is worth slashdot ?

Some more recent cablemodem boxes really just need a flag to be turned with it's support software to turn it into 100M version. It's just finding the right software.

Couldn't find the models in the article so can't confirm it was done like that, but it's the most likely method.

It's almost as stupid as letting people dial free by just sending tones of the right frequency down the telephone line ;)

Re:So why slashdot ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778734)

Why this is worth slashdot ?

Because a lot of the people on slashdot would consider doing this or may have done it. So this is to accomplish exactly what the ISP and FBI want; which is to scare people into not doing it. This is just an attempt at a deterrent.

Realize that the death penalty isn't what causes people to not commit murder. Getting caught is what really prevents then, cuz if most people could spike someone and not get caught (guaranteed), a lot of muthafuckas would be dead by now.

Re:So why slashdot ? (0)

exedanni (96264) | about 12 years ago | (#3778741)

One can see that they are Motorola Surfboard SB4100 or SB3100 from the picture.

100M version? I doubt it, the cable networks only go up to 38Mbit or so depending on the modulation type, and you'll never get that sort of speeds uncapped or not.

Confused (2)

4of12 (97621) | about 12 years ago | (#3778617)

Not being a broadband subscriber I'm ignorant of a few basics.

Like, why doesn't the ISP do shaping upstream of the customer to limit BW usage?

P.S. With the rapidly falling cost of telco infrastructure (I hear WorldCom may have a firesale) and the legendary 9 months time for halving the cost of BW involved, I can see where the "costs" could easily be exaggerated. What was once a felony could be a misdemeanor by the time the case is brought to court.

What's next, CIA investigation over stealing cable (2, Insightful)

moorg (537751) | about 12 years ago | (#3778620)

Everytime somebody figures out how to get HBO for free are we going to call in the Feds? How about turning their service off?

I could see suing somebody over EULA violations or some other form of civil action...but the Feds?

Go look for terrorist and give these kids their cable modems back. Hell they probably just used all the bandwidth that my cable company has promised me but never delivered. ;)

Not Illegal? (1)

Jobe_br (27348) | about 12 years ago | (#3778626)

Just a thought ... I haven't heard of a law saying that it is illegal to uncap a cable modem. Its certainly against the cable modem provider's policy (obviously), but this doesn't entitle the cable company to get the FBI involved, does it?!? This seems like a gross miscarriage of justice. I don't condone uncapping cable modems (as that would screw up the bandwidth of those that don't uncap, such as myself), but in the same sense, there's a big difference between disconnecting someone's service/banning them from your network (as we've seen reported on slashdot before) and RAIDING a person's house!

What's going on here?

Re:Not Illegal? (1)

dr bacardi (48590) | about 12 years ago | (#3778660)

Theft of services, maybe wire fraud... I agree that the FBI probably didn't need to get involved, but theft is theft.

Re:Not Illegal? (2)

renehollan (138013) | about 12 years ago | (#3778753)

I tend to think that this appears to be a civil and not a criminal case.

As for wire fraud, wouldn't communications have to cross state lines for the FBI to get involved?

Of course, there's probably some federal law regarding computer crime (interfering with a computer system strikes me as covering unauthorized use of bandwidth), but I'd still like to see the specifics that justify this kind of federal criminal action, espescially when they were so selective about it (i.e. those who weren't home weren't served..? Huh? What happened to neutral application of the law?)

Glad the FBI is spending time on this... (1)

bill (12141) | about 12 years ago | (#3778629)

Since there is so many other less-important things they could be wasting their time on - like stopping terrorists from bombing our cities, finding the scumbags who kidnap little girls from their houses, etc...

That's not how they do things here in NY.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778630)

Alot of us were privy to the methods of uncapping cable modems many moons ago. Some of us did. It was nice to be pulling upload speeds of 1 Mb/s (as opposed to 128 Kb/s)...

Everything was fine and dandy until we received email addressed to the account owners basically stating "We know what you are doing. You've broken the terms of service by uncapping your modem. We are going to cap it again. If you abuse our network one more time we will ban your modem's mac address."

Wow! We played the game and lost. We got busted. But... I mean.. shit... I didn't see any mention of legal involvement in letters from our cable provider. They didn't steal our hardware as punishment (which apparently was well withing their means). We learned our lesson and our modems will remain capped.

my .02

no arrests (1)

NASAKnight (588155) | about 12 years ago | (#3778638)

Since no arrests were made, this seems like a scare tactic to me. And if as small ISP can get the FBI to scare off 23 customers, just wait and see what the RIA can do ...

haha, I can see it now! (1)

InnereNacht (529021) | about 12 years ago | (#3778639)

"OMFG they arrested me and all I did was hack a system and steal resources!"

*shakes his head*

Stealing is ILLEGAL!

Re:haha, I can see it now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778688)

Well...theres always the argument that non-tangible resources cant technically be stolen...and therefore no "theft" has taken place.

Re:haha, I can see it now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778722)

It *is* theft. If you read the article you'd see that it states that these few users were degrading the performance of the network to the point that the other users were being affected.

I'd consider that theft. It's directly affecting other customers, paying customers. In essence, you're stealing your fellow customers MONEY.

Stealing is bad, MMM-Kay? (3, Interesting)

toupsie (88295) | about 12 years ago | (#3778641)

While I don't think you should not go around modifying equipment that is under a user agreement signed by the user and the equipment provider in order to steal services but sending in the FBI is a bit much. I thought there was more important things to deal with besides obese men with a pr0n addiction using a modified cable modem. You know...that whole "War on Terra" thingy.

I almost want to sue the cable company for wasting the time of the FBI. Next time, cut off their service (A pair of wire cutters will do just fine) and take the losers to court and sue them. I couldn't believe the FBI showed up and didn't arrest anyone! Just took the guys computers.

The only real question is did any of their "non-stealing" customers notice that their net connections were slower because of these "bandwidth theives"?

Paul Shryock.. (0)

cOdEgUru (181536) | about 12 years ago | (#3778643)

Paul Shryock, director of information services at Buckeye CableSystem, estimated the loss from the illegal use of the bandwidth at $250,000. "Some were using a little bit, and others were using a lot," he said.

His name sounds awfully similar to a Shakesperean character (Shylock)

$250,000 not $23 million (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778645)

Its right in the article

Why is the FBI involoved? (0, Redundant)

RealityThreek (534082) | about 12 years ago | (#3778652)

I sure hope the FBI gave those people better information than that story gave us. It sounds to me like they raided peoples' homes, and then didn't charge them with anything.

This wasn't a case where they should have been involved. The cable company could have easily just disabled those users' account.

So much for the focus on homeland security, eh? I'm sure the FBI has much, much better things to follow up on than a couple of high school students ripping off their local isp.

☻ Jesus was a Negro! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778662)

Praise be to the black Savior!

Jesus was a Negro.

Jesus was a Negro.

Jesus was a Negro.

Jesus was a Negro.

Jesus was a Negro.

Jesus was a Negro.

How'd the FBI get involved? (1)

GeckoX (259575) | about 12 years ago | (#3778663)

This makes no sense at all.
These users did what, broke their licensing agreement with their ISP? How does this give the FBI jurisdiction to do this? Where is the criminal behavior? Where is the law stating that it's illegal to tamper with this ISP's modems?
Why wasn't it up to the ISP to SUE these customers themselves to prove wrongdoing based on an AGREEMENT, not a LAW.

INAL, is there a lawyer in the house who can shed some light on this? This just screams of abused/misused powers, unless of course there's alot more to the story than we're getting...

Re:How'd the FBI get involved? (1)

shakah (78118) | about 12 years ago | (#3778677)

Probably "theft of services" (?)

Drumming up charges (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778664)

If the $250k that the ISP says they lost was so important, why didn't they just cancel the users' accounts and charge them for a week's usage or whatever?

Oh.. because that wouldn't be news.

The ISP(s?) wanted to make an example (or several examples) of these users.

After *ahem* "backing-up" all the pr0n and w4r3z off these stole^H^H^H^H^Hconfiscated computers, the local police and FBI will use this incident to drum up more support for more arcane laws to restrict the rights of American citizens.

Since 9/11, has *everyone* lost the backbone to fight for personal freedoms and civil liberties?

Going Overboard? (5, Insightful)

Enonu (129798) | about 12 years ago | (#3778666)

How about something simpler? I suggest the following:

Dear customer,

We have detected that you have uncapped your cable modem, and are using more bandwidth than specified in your contract. You have 3 days to revert the changes you made to your cable modem, or your service will pernamently be canceled and you will be billed for the excess bandwidth you have used at a rate of $XX.XX per megabyte.

Any reason why this wouldn't work? Sending the FBI to investigate is a waste of time and resources for our govt IMHO.

Re:Going Overboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778725)

How bad is it to waste resources that were stolen in the first place?

Re:Going Overboard? (1)

yatest5 (455123) | about 12 years ago | (#3778745)

In other news

Dear shoplifter,

We have filmed you stealing groceries for the last month. You have 3 days to stop this behaviour, or you will be banned from the store and charged for the stuff you have stolen. Otherwise we will do f-all - hope you enjoyed the free stuff.

Any reason this wouldn't work?

Inflated numbers? (3, Insightful)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | about 12 years ago | (#3778667)

Keep in mind that the quarter million dollar figure may have nothing to do with the actual actual damages incurred. Companies often make up figures like this in order to get the FBI's attention, since nothing under $5000 worth of damage is worth investigating. It also makes for better headlines, especially with a politically ambitious prosecutor.

Sure, this would be lying to Federal agents, which is a felony; but several companies got away with it in the Mitnick case, too.

YA stupid porn joke (2)

DanThe1Man (46872) | about 12 years ago | (#3778674)

Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?

How many replies will this story get from people saying "I could"?

How many replies will say something say something referenceing the simpsons
Marge: "Who would need all that porn?"
Homer: "Hmmm, A million times faster"

and then the general cliche "Hmmm, pr0n"...this could reach 1000 comments filled with thouse jokes alone.

legal system in a mess? (1, Troll)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | about 12 years ago | (#3778686)

Umm, you know our policy system is f'ed up when this happens. They are probably going to be tried as terrorists. (I am serious about that!)

Can someone explain the tech details? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778706)

I wonder how exactly did these user manage to get more bandwith? I guess this kind of bandwidth stealing is not possible on DSL.

pr0n (5, Funny)

haa...jesus christ (576980) | about 12 years ago | (#3778707)

Who has time to look at $10,800 worth of pr0n?

Taco, some things in life you make time for.

how about (1)

fogof (168191) | about 12 years ago | (#3778710)

How about invonlatary DoS? Didn't the fact that they uped there modems deny service to other users? Or at least cheapened it ?

This is probably what they did (1)

armie (32968) | about 12 years ago | (#3778711)

A quick google search reveals:

How to UnCap Motorola Surfboard Cable Modems []

Also covered was this previous article on slashdot: Security Focus on Cable Modem Uncapping []

It's not surprising that their computers have been seized - they're criminals stealing from other cable users afterall.

WTF? (0)

bizitch (546406) | about 12 years ago | (#3778714)

Since when does FBI do the dirty work of ISP's? - Think of the precedent here - use to much bandwidth - go to jail ... WTF? Sure these dummy's had to know they were gonna get caught - All they had to do is send a cable guy out there and snip, snip end of problem

Isnt this a bit over the top ? (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | about 12 years ago | (#3778718)

Questions that instantly arise are :

Were these abusers served a notice informing them they were violating the TOS and if they continue they would be taken to court and their connections terminated ?

Why is the capping done on the modem level and not at the router level ?

Consider this : Detective Beavers said the users are tricking the cable company into thinking they are entitled to more bandwidth than they are

This is only true if the Cable company had a tiered system. Otherwise this Detective does not know what he is talking about.

And why did they sieze the computers ? Does the cable company people have a fixation towards the smut and the illegal warez thats in the computers ? How are they gonna convince a jury that the stuff in those computers was exactly what was downloaded by tricking them ?

I understand that if you had a car and go over 100 miles per hour that you could get pulled over. But does the cops have a right to take away your car leaving you in the middle of nowhere ?

Fraud (5, Insightful)

barberio (42711) | about 12 years ago | (#3778723)

Some people may be wondering why the FBI was involved with this. The answer is simple. This constitutes fraud.

If you were to wire up a box on your phone to enable you to get free calls then you'd find your self in the same situation. And its escentialy the same crime as uncaping your cable modem/dsl router. As stealing phone calls detriments the ability of the whole network from ordinary users, so does stealing bandwidth.

I find myself stressing this again, Bandwidth Is Not Free. Bandwidth is not an artificialy restricted resource. It is a true limited resource, there is only so much you can put over a cable, and you need to ofset the costs of maintenece on that cable and the initial cost of laying it in the first place.

Doing it is illegal. Its also easy to trace. So they called the people who have jurisdiction for wire frauds and computer crime. its as simple as that. ISPs regularly warn users not to do this, and when they do, its justifyable to take it up with the authorities.

Wether its rational to do search and seazure of equipment is another matter, that may put the FBI in the wrong.

On a related note... (2)

sacremon (244448) | about 12 years ago | (#3778742)

"The use of excessive bandwidth is something that Buckeye does not condone or will not stand. The clear distinction between this type of theft and the theft of cable services is that there is a finite amount of resource. The more the customer uses, the less there is to go around for other customers. These customers were impacting the performance of all our other customers," Mr. Shryock said.

Which strikes me as funny, as AT&T Cable did have people arrested earlier this year/late last year on charges of stealing cable (TV) service. In one case local to me, it was demonstrated in court that some of the arrested individuals not only did not have AT&T service, but the AT&T techs later showed that there was no physical way for the person to have tapped into the service.

pound of flesh (1)

Porag_Spliffing (66509) | about 12 years ago | (#3778743)

Paul Shryock, director of information services at Buckeye CableSystem, estimated the loss from the illegal use of the bandwidth at $250,000. "Some were using a little bit, and others were using a lot," he said.

Looks like they mis-spelled shylock

In other news: FBI missed clues of 9/11 attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3778746)

Thank heavens they've completely beaten the terrorists and reorganized so they're an effective terror fighting machine.

Because now that they have all the free time, they can raid homes where kids uncap cable modems.

God bless america ( nation, under god, indivisible...)
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