A U.S. district court of Massachusetts convicted Ryan Harris, 26, of Redmond, Oregon, Thursday of seven counts of wire fraud, for helping thousands of people steal internet service. Harris faces up to 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine for each of the counts.
Harris previously owned TCNISO, a company that sold hardware and software that helped users to steal internet service, according to the Department of Justice. Between 2003 and 2009, Harris sold products that allowed his customers to modify their modems and also make it appear that they were paying for their online access. Some of TCNISO's products included "Coax Thief," a packet sniffer which allowed his users to obtain control of surrounding modems. Harris also unabashedly offered tech support to his customers, via forums on his website, and gave tips to advise how one would better hack modems.
Harris, known online as DerEngel, had also published a book titled Hacking the Cable Modem: What Cable Companies Don’t Want You to Know.
Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division had this to say in a statement, "Mr. Harris tried to hide behind the banner of freedom of access to the Internet, but the evidence established that he built a million dollar business helping customers steal Internet service." Harris will be sentenced on May 23rd.
In related news, MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom recently gave his first TV interview after being released on bail while facing multiple charges including racketeering and criminal copyright infringement.