The satellite industry is expected to generate 171 billion dollars by 2007, with a large portion of this revenue being generated by satellite television service, such as Direct TV and Dish Network. As in any multi-billion dollar industry, there is those that illegally profit through the big business of fraud schemes.
Activation fraud has quickly become a popular structure that houses both the small time thief and the large crime ringmasters. The crime seems undetectable and easy to commit. How easy? The account holder simply rents out the extra boxes to those that want to participate in this satellite scam, sometimes for as little as 25 dollars to as much as 100 dollars each. Someone that rents out three boxes at the very least earns enough money each month to pay the their satellite bill, child support or mortgage payment.
While one could say the companies aren’t losing as long as the bill is paid, the reality is that television service companies lose incalculable millions every year in the United States alone due to ‘lost’ paying customers.
Many people who defraud satellite television providers do so feeling there is nothing wrong with selling something to someone else what they have paid for . These same criminals don’t realize that if caught, and they can be caught, they will face federal criminal charges by FBI and US attorneys feverishly striving for successful convictions.
DIRECTV, Inc., Director of Public Relations, Robert Mercer states: “We take any allegations of fraud quite seriously. We continue to actively investigate schemes in which people obtain access to our programming by activating fraudulent accounts. We are constantly deactivating these fraudulent accounts and turning off the related access cards.
To date we have filed several federal lawsuits – each involving multiple defendants – against individuals we believe were engaged in fraudulent activation schemes. We also work with the FBI and US Attorneys to assist in the criminal prosecution of fraudulent hardware, access card and account schemes. Our Office of Signal Integrity and Legal team have several active fraud investigations underway and we plan to vigorously pursue each of these cases civilly in federal court, and where appropriate, make referrals to the federal and state authorities for criminal prosecution. We are determined to protect our business and our honest customers from these unlawful activities.
Those who engage in fraud to obtain our programming are violating provisions of the Federal Communications Act, Federal Wiretap laws and many state laws, all of which state that it is illegal to intercept or assist others in intercepting DIRECTV’s encrypted satellite signals without authorization or payment to DIRECTV.
According to the federal and state laws under which our complaints are filed, DIRECTV is entitled to either actual damages, including any profits made by the defendants, or statutory damages that can range from $10,000 to $100,000 per violation, as well as payment of all costs and attorneys’ and investigative fees. (These are civil penalties.)”
Satellite television is almost deemed a utility by common people in today’s digital world. The most basic of satellite television packages communicates news, vital weather reports and major disasters while they are happening, such as with the 9/11 attacks in 2001 or the hurricanes in 2005. Entertainment from movies and sitcoms helps to relieve stress and provides the home-bound with a way to occupy their minds.
The question that is posed by the satellite television service companies to those that abuse this amazing medium is “Do ya feel lucky? Well. Do ya?”