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Operation Fastlink Suspect Pleads Guilty

Back in April 2004 we reported about a worldwide anti-piracy sweep named “Operation Fastlink” where members of the APC group (and other warez groups) were being arrested.

Mark Shumaker, 21 years-old, was a member of the APC group and also led the Apocalypse Crew’s Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel. The group specialized in releasing music not yet available to the public.

Shumaker has pleaded guilty and faces up to 5 years in jail and a USD 250,000 fine. Fifteen other members have been convicted already.

Brad Buckles, executive vice president for the RIAA; “For the first time ever, a criminal online music piracy case went to trial, and the jury rendered a swift and unanimous verdict. [...] The crimes committed here — as well as the harm to the music community — are severe, and so are the consequences. We congratulate and thank the U.S. Attorney’s office for its work on this case.”

IRC Network Admin: More Then You Bargained For

Many people wish to have their own IRC network. Once a basic network is setup they advertise the network to gain users, in the hope many will find and start using it. But what if they abuse your good intentions and start using your infrastructure to host bots engaged in illegal activities? Then things can start to become a real life nightmare. In this article we follow Dewd, from network admin to a suspect criminal with a 10 year prison sentence hanging above his head.

Dewd started his network in 2005, and as many fresh network admins do, started advertising the network in as many places he could find such as SearchIRC and mIRC’s servers.ini file.

With the advertising came users, including users he had not wished for. “Two pirates from Undernet have come and started to load their bots with fake nickname and fake channelname (#warez-rose) in secret mode (+s) trying to make it look like peer-to-peer bots but these bots wasn’t for peer-to-peer I think.”

Dewd installed IRC Defender to remove the bots from his network which worked well. But naturally, the bots would not be stopped from trying to connect to the network. Despite trying to keep his network free from such influences Dewd was arrested late February, along with 16 other suspects by S�ret� du Qu�bec, Canadian’s provincial police. The arrests included the two users loading the bots of which one is still in custody, according to Dewd. All 17 people are seen as suspect members of “a vast computer piracy network” as a police report explained.

“Over 100 countries on all of the continents are affected. Current damage to computer infrastructure is estimated at more than $45 million”, the police report explains. The malicious users infected computers with malware in order to steal private data, DDoS, phising and use them for spamming.

“During the 17 searches conducted today, eight suspects were apprehended with an arrest warrant and will appear in court. The police questioned the other nine suspects, who have been released by way of summons.” Maximum sentence for these crimes is 10 years in prison.

Dewd is not one of the eight, but he is not yet cleared as police is still investigating his computers. “The charge against me it’s the uses illegally of a computer.”

“We recommend that anyone who suspects that his computer has been hacked consult a computer specialist” the police report ends. This of course, is an advice IRC-Junkie fully recommends!

Dewd ends, “I’m under investigation since 2006, all what I do is downloading/chat a bit/watching funny video on the web… I’m not that kind of person who DDoS websites. Peer-to-peer isn’t illegal in Canada. I download movies for me and my girl friend, also my kids. I’m not doing money with it, I download because I doesn’t have enough of money for buy them.”

An interview with Dewd for local media can be found here (French). The English language police report can be found here

DrinkOrDie Member Sentenced to 51 Month Jail

In May 2002 the FBI and law enforcement agencies worldwide arrested members of the DrinkOrDie warez group in an operation named Operation Buccaneer. One member, Hew Raymond Griffiths who was arrested in Australia and transported to U.S.A. received a 51 month jail sentence for his part in the warez group.

Originally started in Russia in 1993 and operating from a channel on EFNet, the group quickly became a group with members worldwide. It specialized in cracking software, but also released films and music.

Griffiths, now 44 years-old, used the nickname Bandido and was one of the leaders of the group. After taking into consideration the time he was in jail in Australia fighting the extradition, 15 month are left in jail.

“Whether committed with a gun or a keyboard – theft is theft,” US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg for the Eastern District of Virginia said. “And, for those inclined to steal Intellectual Property here, or from halfway around the world, they are on notice that we can and will reach them.”

Worldwide 70 raids were conducted which resulted in 30 convictions in the U.S.A. and 11 in other countries.

Major Piracy Bust in Europe (updated 27 Jan 2006)

Tuesday morning at around 10 AM police entered the homes of about 300 individuals in Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic. Thirty individuals have been arrested in this action and 20 servers have been confiscated.

According to the German anti-piracy organization GVU the goal of this action was the top-level warez organizations, the so-called ‘top servers’. It are these servers where pirated movies, software and music are first available to a selected few after which they spread down the line and become available to the general public on p2p networks, news groups and IRC.

According to the GVU, who led the bust, several key piracy groups have been eliminated such as Unreality, DRAGON and Cinemaniacs. Rumors on the Internet also speak of servers being confiscated at these groups: RELOADED, KNIGHTS, TFCiSO, Cinemaniacs, German-Friend, ParadieseBeach and Klapsmuehle.

The GVU has said in a  press release that the biggest bust was done in Vienna, Austria where one server has been confiscated with 28 separate harddrives connected to the server with optic cable, offering a total of 4 terabyte space.

Although GVU is convinced  that they made a severe blow to these groups, it is usually thought that shortly after such busts the top people who have not been arrested will pull them self back from the scene, and people further down the line will organize them self again after a few months to continue the operation.

Update: Heise.de is reporting what some of the people have been adding as comments to this post already. It seems that the actions taken by the GVU them self have been very questionable themself.

German police have raided an office of the GVU in Hamburg and a personal house of a ‘high profile’ employee of the organization.

The GVU is supposed to have contributed hardware and money to one of the ‘top sites’ admins in change of logfiles. Rumors are even going around that the GVU supplied pirated titels. The German police have said in a statement about the raid that it was performed to ‘verify’ the evidence given by the GVU.

IRCSpy Releases AutoXDCC

IRCSpy, a website build around a searchengine that indexes downloads being offered on IRC, released AutoXDCC today.

“This new program has been in the works for the last few months by the staff here at IRCSpy. AutoXDCC makes downloading via XDCC using IRCSpy as easy as one click. There is no need to copy and paste troublesome commands into your IRC Client”, author Xanthus announced on the IRCSpy website.

Once you have completed a search on the website, and want to download one of the results, clicking a special icon will add the download in the AutoXDCC program.

“AutoXDCC allows for multiple downloads on various networks at the same time. The program associates to a special .xdcc file extension which will be made available for download on our search engine.”

More information and the download link can be found here.