The RCMP announced today that they have made eight arrests in a DVD counterfeiting network based in Montreal that was selling bad copies of DVDs (and in some cases off-TV recordings) of U.S. television series through multiple websites.
The RCMP doesn’t name the eight people arrested, nor the websites involved, nor the name of the company they were working under. But all signs point to TVBoxSet.com, which The Gazette wrote about in August after many users complained of either not getting what they ordered or getting bad copies of what they were expecting. The website is currently offline.
(I tried to call the RCMP spokesperson to confirm this, but their office apparently closes before 3:45pm on a day they issue a major news release.)
Garcia Media Group, which was the company behind the operation, distributed the DVDs through the following nearly-identical websites:
as well as a number of other domains that have since been turned into spam sites.
Many of the sites listed above are still operational and will still gladly accept your credit card information.
Not that anyone should be held responsible for being defrauded, but some simple sleuthing on the part of surfers could have prevented their losing money to these scam sites:
- Check a vendor’s reputation, if only through a simple Google search, before deciding to do business with them. Don’t just assume a professional-looking website will be any more official than some unknown person on eBay.
- Find out information about a vendor from their website. Do they have a head office? Do they say who they’re owned by? Do they provide links to other organizations that can vouch for them?
- Be suspicious of any company that offers region-free DVDs or DVDs that haven’t been released yet.
- If a company says “no problem” at shipping (especially copyrighted and release-controlled material like DVDs) to over 100 countries, chances are they’re ignoring the law.
- 80% discounts on popular items just don’t happen.
- Don’t give your credit card number on an unsecured connection!
It should be noted, of course, that this is bootlegging in the traditional sense, profiting off the selling of copied copyrighted material. It is clearly covered under existing copyright law, and it’s clearly illegal.
The RCMP says it started an investigation in February (why did it take them that long?). Let’s hope they have a solid case that will result in long sentences and heavy fines, and that everyone who has been scammed will be refunded.
UPDATE (Dec. 25): Missed this TQS video of the operation, including stacks of dozens of DVD burners that practically bring it into the territory of cartoonish supervillainy.