Would-be Modern Warfare 2 pirate busted

Private investigation firm helps Activision track down hacker who leaked upcoming shooter, leading to arrest of 18-year-old.

With Activision proclaiming next week's launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to be the biggest debut in entertainment history, tech blog VentureBeat has provided a look at the efforts to address prerelease piracy of the highly anticipated game and how it landed one young hacker in jail.

According to the blog, the story began last week, when an ad for Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 bundles surfaced on Craigslist. When Activision spotted the ad, it contacted Dallas-based private investigation firm IPCybercrime.com, which arranged to purchase two such bundles from the seller. IPCybercrime also spotted a separate ad for the bundle with the seller claiming to be a stock boy for a major game retailer, identified the two sellers as friends based on an online social network, and turned their information over to Activision.

Modern Warfare 2 is just the latest in a long line of games to be leaked and pirated before launch.

When confronted by Activision, the two sellers admitted they had swiped a crate of the Modern Warfare 2 systems, and their case was then turned over to the retailer's loss prevention staff. The story might have ended there, if not for one of the seller's other customers.

IPCybercrime found a post by a user on an Xbox piracy forum asking people to donate money so he could buy one of the Craigslisted bundles, rip the game, and distribute it online. Investigators cross-referenced the user's e-mail address with a Facebook account, which had his cell phone number listed, and determined his identity to be 18-year-old Christian Del Amo. They turned the information over to the Miami-Dade police department, who arranged to purchase a pirated copy of the game and bust the hacker in the process.

Christian Del Amo.

Police obtained the game from a "runner," who led them back to Del Amo. The 18-year old was arrested yesterday and is currently incarcerated in Miami's Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center. IPCybercrime told VentureBeat that Del Amo was set up to sell thousands of illegal copies of Modern Warfare 2.

According to VentureBeat, Del Amo had a history of piracy, selling modded 250GB Xbox 360 hard drives preloaded with 125 hacked games through auction site iOffer.com. At retail, the games could cost thousands of dollars, but Del Amo sold the hard drives for $150.

While an arrest was made in the case, it didn't come quick enough to prevent piracy of the game. Illegal copies of Modern Warfare 2 have been appearing on peer-to-peer file-sharing services since earlier this week, potentially costing publisher Activision thousands of lost sales.

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1069 comments
TheRealUser101
TheRealUser101

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (abbreviated as Call of Duty: MW3 or simply MW3) is a sequel to Infinity Ward's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. MW3 will immediately follow the events of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, where the Russians continue their invasion of the USA.

carlito501
carlito501

Now to say that this kid is going to get raped, etc, is wrong. He'll go to a minimum security facility. He'll wear a jumpsuit and be allowed to leave the facility to buy lunch, etc. My aunt works at a prison like that. It's not all that bad, in comparison. And yes, I said "leave the facility". They are tracked and if they make a run for it, they are hunted down and put in a more secure facility. Now as far as his personal safety is concerned, he'll be fine. He'll be in with other hackers, etc. The worst that will happen is they'll insult his hacking ability, and it'll lead to name-calling and a slap-fight. Big Whoop. And I agree with the logic of "if i wasn't going to buy it in the first place, then what money did you lose".

rafaelp11
rafaelp11

too young to be imprisoned just like that.

FrankTheFrank
FrankTheFrank

Man you guys are dense. Look. I am NOT saying "I wouldn't have bought it anyways so it is ok to steal it." I am saying "I wouldn't have bought it anyways, so IF I pirate it, it is NOT a loss for the company." If a company has infinite fries that cost nothing to create.( IE: They have SOMETHING which cost NOTHING (which is the case of game copies; as you can create infinite copies for nothing - only disks etc cost money.) And they want a dollar per fry, and I say no thanks but go home and eat a fry. It does not hurt the company. Because I would never have bought the fries from them in the first place. When I would never buy the game. It can't be said to be a lost sale. It costs the company nothing IF I pirate a game I would never have bought. The flip side of it is, the company GAINS if I PLAY a game and buy it because I played it. The downside is that the Company also loses some legitimate sales. I would be VERY surprised though if those were significant to any games bottom line. Check out Sins of a Solar Empire for an example of a game that did extremely well, from a small publisher, with no DRM and more or less 'free' to pirates. I bought my first and only collectors edition of a game after playing the 'free' copy for a month. this kid deserved his stuff. Your average pirate, and more importantly the scene, does nothing wrong.

SopranosFan
SopranosFan

I am truly shocked at how many people have suddenly came to the defense of this kid. I feel sorry for the kid because he made a mistake and I hope that whatever punishment he gets is enough to make him learn from his mistake. To act like piracy is a victimless crime that should go unpunished is nonsense. Game developers and publishers are closing their doors daily and unlike in the past their doesn't seem to be as many replacing them because of the high cost of entry. Yes I know that MW2 made a fortune and correct me if I'm wrong but I have a feeling that less successful games are also being pirated as well. So do me a favor and stop defending the kid's actions to make yourself feel better about the crimes you commit.

michelgagnon99
michelgagnon99

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

CosmicTerror
CosmicTerror

First thing: I went to school with this kid, he was in my class. LOL Piracy is usually done as inconspicuously as possible, just throwing the stuff onto the internet for people to grab, mostly, for free. Still illegal but much harder to get in trouble. The problem arrives when you try to sell the media, and make the minimum-effort buck. The media isn't yours to sell, you don't have the license and you didn't get permission from the film/game company/publisher. Even doing this sort of thing for movies gets you a "5year/250k" sentence/fine. Is jail-time a harsh punishment for this kid? I suppose so. He did profit off of piracy, but he wasn't wide-scale. /shrug

_DeadlyFred_
_DeadlyFred_

Sheesh, the thing sold FOUR POINT TWO MILLION and they're still crying "potential lost sales" from piracy. Say it with me, folks -- leeches don't BUY things... that's why they pirate junk in the first place.

hobobobo00
hobobobo00

im surprised he had a "runner" deliver the game, that was pretty smart of him too bad he still got caught

featheon
featheon

Let me clarify instead of sounding like a newf*g. Most parties involved in actually pirating (i.e. cracking the game code) do not attempt to make money off of their efforts and distribute the game online anonymously. This kid left a trail right to himself my trying to turn a profit. You will not end up in jail for downloading a movie, so most of your analogies are not pertinent.

featheon
featheon

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

torogdl
torogdl

@TongLong Amen brother! and don´t think too much, protected??? just... big companies, big crime/drug lords and corrupt politicians!! everyone else just for ourselves.. ding ding ding ding!!

TongLong
TongLong

What a crock. People get mugged, raped and murdered every day, and those things go unsolved, but an 18 year old kid busts out a game that people will have to pay $60+ for early, and gets nailed to the wall for it. I wonder who is really being protected in our societies?

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

It's a shame that one person getting royally busted on this isn't going to change much, but it's still a good case and shamefully rather funny. Maybe other companies will get the hint and realize how ridiculously easy it is to hunt down this kind of stuff via Craigslist. Worth remembering: We've seen for a decade of somewhat constant levels of punishment. Smaller-scale distribution enforcement is very rare, probably getting a fine. Once someone is actually raking in cash from it, publicly flaunting their actions and there's an organized structure to assist the crime (such as the HDDs in this case) it completely changes the situation and the accused is typically charged with a felony. When money gets involved it changes the charges quite a bit.

mesk14
mesk14

@dcregulator no piracy should NOT carry a jail sentence...we need that space to jail child molesters,rapists&murderers.it is ridiculous that there r ppl in jail for marijuana possesion while a child rapists gets out cause the jail is out of space----not that i think the pirate should get off scott free but honestly who wins\benefits from sending him to prison?do the developers get back any of their lost profits?no they dont i do believe he should be hit with 5,000-15,000$in restitution to the developer then things are gained.sending a kid to prison for a non-violent\almost victimless crime is just wrong

DCRegulator
DCRegulator

Makes me laugh how many people don't have a problem with what this moron did. I was just thinking...I really want a Porsche, but they charge way too much for their cars. On top of that, I think they are evil and make business decisions that I don't agree with. Even though I can only afford a Civic, I see no reason why I am not entitled to drive such a luxury car. My solution is to steal a nice new one from a dealership. I'll tool around in it for awhile then I'll sell it to a like-minded fool for $5,000. I just got to drive a Porsche and make a little money on the side. It doesn't hurt anyone, right? Porsche makes way too much money to care about that sort of thing. I bet they wouldn't even care if I figured out a way to "copy" Porsches and sell them all for just $5,000, right? Most importantly, If I got caught, jail would be unacceptable. Really? I fear the future when these kids have to take over...

Daylen
Daylen

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

f3aRl3sS_dRaGoN
f3aRl3sS_dRaGoN

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

funny thing is im pretty sure he just got this from a scene release ... and did none of the hacking himself... just goes to show, crime doesnt pay lol ahahhaha

Trinity567
Trinity567

The guy was selling pirated copies of games which is a bit different from your average pirate. I don't agree that pirates necessarily cost companies money because that is based on the presumption that the pirate would give you their money otherwise. Just seems like you would be getting ahead of yourself to assume that

SineFato
SineFato

@holyghost87 You're retarded. When you are bringing in god knows how many millions of dollars in revenue from selling millions of copies of a game, 20,000 people pirating you're game isn't gonna put you under. Or even really put a dent in it. A lot of the people pirating, are people that wouldn't have played/watched the game/movie if they hadn't pirated it. And just as many pirate it, enjoy it a lot, then go out and buy it anyways. Piracy should NEVER lead to a jail sentence. Other forms of punishment such as house arrest, probation, etc etc, yes. A jail sentence, never.

Kajiuro
Kajiuro

Piracy of media should not lead to incarceration. I really like this movie, I think I'll download it, and spend 5 years in prison with violent prisoners who will ass rape me continuously and ruin my life forever.

holyghost87
holyghost87

@ jjtiebuckle c'mon.. costing and losing money are different terms! Get your facts right! Don't u think good games now cost millions to make Throw these hackers at least 3 years jail term I believe piracy (besides economic crisis) is one of the main reason why large companies are forced to cut jobs.

Cabal23
Cabal23

@ peewizzle Yeah because Dora was created by invisible people without families and non-existent stockholders who hold stock in a imaginary company. Another silly comparison that makes no sense. How is Dora ok to steal and not MW2? So a Yugo is ok to steal, but a Ford Expedition pimped out isn't because it cost more to make? Wow, the brainpower here is starting to scare me. What is happening to our gene pool?

jjtiebuckle
jjtiebuckle

Hm.. illegal digital copies cost them "thousands in profits" yet at the same time, this is one of the highest pre-ordered games in history. Tell me when exactly they lose money, since 1,000 pirates =/= millions of first day/ week/ month buyers.

peewizzle
peewizzle

i usually just wait until the game becomes used at gamestop, i just cannot justify paying $60 +tax for a game many of the games like COD MW 2 most likely take a lot of time to develop so i can understand the price but to charge the same amount +tax for DORA's wild adventure or something along those lines (thats just not right in my opinion but then again im not 10 so its not enjoyable for me) i can agree about getting dora or something along those lines pirated but for a worthwhile game like COD i say support the developer...although im too cheap to buy it new :P

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

Wow. If that kid winds up in prison, he's in for a very rough ride. Something tells me that teenage software pirates are like snacks for hardened criminals. Actions have consequences, though.

Cabal23
Cabal23

@Cereo1 Sorry but your ideas about cost benefit analysis don't fit into this situation. I could lead you into how it works but that would be a waste of time when anyone could google it. Your arguments are baseless and filled with nonsense. I loved the one about fries, that was a gem. Also your ideas on inflation are also wrong. The point was make more money=buy more stuff. Most people go through life and work their way up, not down in the economic structure. The older you get the more your paycheck should be. At 37 I have enough disposable funds to buy as many $60 games as I want because I responsibly save and budget. When I was 16 that was not a possibility because my minimum wage job would not support that. The overarching theme here is the younger you are the less disposable income you have and the harder you work for luxuries. So grow up, contribute to the economy, and stop making stupid rationalizations because you can't fork out $60 for something that cost millions to make and involved countless man hours. If you really want to talk value versus benefit, a video game gives you more for your value for your money versus other forms of entertainment any day.

Duffleman
Duffleman

@internationaal I have to disagree with you on CD's being more expensive than LP's as once you take into account inflation, CD's are way cheaper. Just as an example, 25 years ago, a snickers bar cost 8p, now it's about 60p. At the same time my parents bought a house for £30,000. It's now worth £230,000. You can pick up a brand new CD at a supermarket for as little as £7, so if you took inflation into account and rolled it back to 1985 levels, a cd is the equivalent of about £1.50!

Cabal23
Cabal23

Having known a high profile hacker that got caught about 10 years ago, I can tell you jail is only one option. This guys choice was military service or jail. He spent 4 years in the Navy instead. Also the department of homeland security is always looking for a few good hackers. Unfortunately for this guy I don't know if he fits that bill.

Greek_Boy17
Greek_Boy17

This dude needs to get jail-raped...bad.

Phooey442
Phooey442

I don't exactly approve of pirating...but on the other hand have you seen how much games cost these days?!

obiwan629
obiwan629

If people keep buying pirated copies, companies won't be able to make good games like these, unless they get profit :\

coldsauce09
coldsauce09

this is why i bought a PS3 however i know it, time will come and blu-ray will be pirated...

coldsauce09
coldsauce09

why dont this guys check philippines, china, indonesia, laos and thailand theres lot of pirates there..

malaga01
malaga01

As a certain Mr. Nelson Muntz would say, "HA HA"!

KoruKinshi
KoruKinshi

I think Tyrone's going to enjoy breaking him in, heh.

left4right
left4right

original copy = 60$ + driving to mall + waiting in line pirated copy = cost of 1 dvd, free torrent download, no driving. tempting, pirates are far more advanced.

Pablo620
Pablo620

I dont even buy used games to support our beloved industry and developers.

ShadowNeverDies
ShadowNeverDies

Technically you do know that the best pirates usually get jobs, you know because they're really good at computers, and well to catch other hackers. Think of it kind of as like the ending of Carch me if you can. So yeah if you want to get a really good job do some really good hacking. I mean deep crap that you'd think would get you arrested, but it's more like a slap on the wrists but a 6 figure job with the gov't or other corporation. This punk though, we'll just get arrested.

ibStratus
ibStratus

@Arsyad00 First off, if daddy isn't buying you this game, GOOD! It's rated Mature for a reason. That is the problem with this country, parents ranted and raved to get a rating system for video games, and then they completely disregard the system. I would love to meet your father and shake his hand for being a good parent. THIS IS NOT A GAME FOR CHILDREN, AND MIDDLE SCHOOLERS ARE CHILDREN!!!

leviathanwing
leviathanwing

i hope you pirates burn, i remember back when it was the first xbox i had and i had 'bought' a game from a family members friend and he decided to bring me a illegal ripped copy and offered to mod my xbox for free... i looked at him like the criminal he was and asked for my money back. i only know how upset id be if i was robbed point blank range with a gun to my face, which is to say that youve just forfeited your right to life, and i would react the same way if this was my intellectual property. i say take his kneecaps and also deny him the ability to use computers connected to the internet in any way and to flag his name and/or social security to the fbi redflagging him for life towards fraud or fraudulent activities.

SopranosFan
SopranosFan

Your defenses for pirating games are very flawed. First the Activision is rich so it doesn't matter. Well in theory that sounds good but I don't believe if you went around stealing from rich people it would get you off. The defense I wasn't going to buy it anyways so it is O.K. is laughable. I'm not going to buy a lot of things so does that mean I can just go steal me a copy. I don't buy many used games because I prefer to support an industry that often struggles with studios closing and laying off workers monthly.

Force360
Force360

Piracy=Thievery. The article also explains that he has "had a history of piracy, selling modded 250GB Xbox 360 hard drives preloaded with 125 hacked games..." Sounds illegal to me, and should be categorized as theft. I do not understand why someone would even think that this guy is a 'Hero' for pirating games; thats like praising someone for raping a child or breaking into a home. It's just illegal and If I owned a business, of course I'd bring someone like him to justice. Enough said, you always get what you pay for.

matelko
matelko

"Investigators cross-referenced the user's e-mail address with a Facebook account, which had his cell phone number listed, and determined his identity to be 18-year-old Christian Del Amo" I have to say my friend you deserve it coz you are dumb :-)

drewciferpike
drewciferpike

@Arsyad00 Wait... what?!? Are you serious? Are you really, truly serious? I am a "gamer freak" (much to the chagrin of my wife), and I am also a "working person". More to the point: I have been working since I was 6 years old. No... no sweatshop crap. I picked up walnuts and sold them at the local feed store. I mowed lawns. I washed cars. When I was old enough, I worked at the local grocery store. Before you freak out and claim that I'm acting like some 50's-era throwback who only accepts digging ditches as "work", I want to point out that the work that I did was pretty much the only thing available at the time. There are a lot of ways that you can LEGALLY make money, if you have the drive and creativity. You're obviously on-line if you're reading/responding to these posts, so utilize some of your creativeness and the "free" internet at your disposal, and make some money. If "daddy" sees that you're willing to hold yourself to higher standards and be creative, he might be willing to shell out for games if he sees that you truly care about gaming, and are willing to put your OWN money on the line, not just his.

Wolflink001
Wolflink001

I told him not to but look what happened... Don't drop the soup err... soap!

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

Please think about us middle school students... hard for us to get our daddy to buy a $60 games if ur parent are not gamer freak. working people might not appreciate what he doing but us yes.

gob__bluth
gob__bluth

@metalkid9 - Look - you are starting with the outcome of "I want piracy to be ok" and working backwards with your logic, which might make you feel better but doesn't make it ok. It's as simple as that.