Home New Haven Press Releases 2009 Florida Man Who Participated in Online Piracy Ring is Sentenced
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Florida Man Who Participated in Online Piracy Ring is Sentenced

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 06, 2009
  • District of Connecticut (203) 821-3700

Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that GREG HURLEY, also known as “toxin,” 27 of Apopka, Florida, was sentenced yesterday, May 5, by United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford, to three years of probation, the first six months of which HURLEY must spend in home confinement, for conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement. Judge Thompson also ordered HURLEY to pay a fine in the amount of $5000. This matter stems from a multinational software piracy investigation known as “Operation Higher Education.”

On January 28, 2009, HURLEY pleaded guilty and admitted that, for more than two years, he was a participant in the “warez scene,” an underground online community consisting of individuals and organized groups who engage in the large scale reproduction, modification and distribution of copyrighted software over the Internet. In the warez scene, certain participants (known as “suppliers”) are able to obtain access to copyrighted software, video games, DVD movies, and MP3 music files, often before those titles are even available to the general public. Other participants, known as “crackers,” then use their technical skills to circumvent or “crack” the digital copyright protections. Others, known as “couriers,” then distribute the pirated software to various file storage sites (“FTP sites”) on the Internet for others to access, reproduce, and further distribute. The leading warez groups competed with one another to attain the reputation as the fastest, highest quality providers of pirated materials.

HURLEY was a “supplier” in the warez scene and had unlimited access to several warez FTP sites to and from which he transferred pirated software and other digital media. In March 2004, an FTP warez server accessed by HURLEY contained approximately 10,000 titles of pirated software, games and movies.

In addition, NATHAN CARRERA, also known as “ripvan,” 33, of Wood Dale, Illinois, pleaded guilty yesterday, May 5, before United States Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez in Hartford to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

From approximately September 2003 through March 2004, CARRERA was a participant in the warez scene and had privileged access to several warez FTP sites from which he downloaded pirated software and other digital media. Over the course of his participation in the conspiracy, CARRERA provided various services to the warez community, including serving as a site operator for at least one FTP warez site.

CARRERA is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Thompson on July 24, 2009, at which time CARRERA faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

“Operation Higher Education” is the largest component of the global law enforcement action known as “Operation Fastlink,” announced by the Department of Justice on April 22, 2004. Twelve nations participated in the investigation, which resulted in more than 120 search warrants executed in the United States, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution hubs; and the removal of more than $50 million worth of illegally copied software, games, movies and music from illicit distribution channels.  More than 60 individuals have been convicted as a result of this investigation.

“Operation Higher Education” was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New Haven office in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (“CCIPS”).  This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Edward Chang and Senior Counsel Clement McGovern of CCIPS.

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