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DirecTV hacker gets jail sentence

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 12 Dec 2004 7:40 User comments (20)

DirecTV hacker gets jail sentence Martin Mullen, a 50 year old Canadian Man, has been jailed for 7 years after he admitted to being the leader of a sophisticated satellite TV piracy ring that sold hacked smart cards in Canada and the United States. He was also ordered to pay a sum of $24m to DirecTV and their smart card provider NDS Ltd. He pled guilty in a federal court in Tampa, Florida in September last year to conspiracy to violate anti-piracy laws and entering the United States illegally after being deported years earlier in an unrelated matter. Mullen has been called an expert at cracking smart cards that are issues to subscribers which allow them to view TV channels that they pay for.
Usually, when a subscriber inserts the card into the set top box, a satellite signal will then determine which channels this user is allowed to watch. This operation is based by a unique identification number that is coded into every issued smart card. Mullen apparently headed a network of over 100 individuals that sell thousands of hacked smart cards which allow access to all channels. "The severe sentence handed down by the court is clearly warranted in this case and we applaud the judge's decision," said Jim Whalen, senior director of DirecTV's Signal Integrity Department, in a statement. "This sentence serves as a stark reminder that the sale and distribution of signal theft devices has grave consequences."

The sentence was decided by the amount of financial damage Mullen’s actions caused for DirecTV. The court accepted that Mullen has been responsible for at least 16,000 hacked smart cards in use and each caused damages of $1,500, giving a total of $24m. DirecTV estimates that Mullen’s network is responsible for about 68,000 hacked smart cards on the street. Mullen is now in custody at the Miami Federal Detention Center, and quite amusingly, NDS are currently trying to crack the encryption on a memory stick seized from him. They hope it will contain numbers for offshore bank accounts where they believe Mullen has stashed millions of dollars.

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20 user comments

112.12.2004 8:14

This sentence serves as a stark reminder that the sale and distribution of signal theft devices has grave consequences.
Don't want to critize too much, but the only grave consequence is: You have jailed a 50 year old man, near his retirement age, for 7 years. It's funny, because 7 years is near the sentences for crime that actually harm people. I can picture the DirecTV executives screaming "No no, only 7 years? What are they thinking! WE LOST 24 GODDAMN MILLION! THEY SHOULD JAIL HIM FOR LIFE! Afterall, 24 million is worth more than a life."

212.12.2004 9:07

Yeh...this kinda shit is what makes you want to skew the industry as much as possible. Profiting off of signal theft is NOT worth as much as a human life.......but with industry money SHAZAM!

312.12.2004 11:14

If he was good enough to crack their protection, then what makes them think they can get through his protection? it was probably in place just in case he did get caught, and is probably much more heavily guarded than their smart cards.

412.12.2004 17:03

Theres something serisouly wrong with this country(USA) when they put a man in jail for 7 years for cracking a signal. I can understand a fine and some jail time for he has commited a crime but 7 years when our jails are aleardy so full with murderers and people who commite other horrific crimes.

512.12.2004 17:25

I'm reminded of the ending of the movie Catch Me If You Can. Sure, Leo sucks, but if these people had any brains, they might realise just how skilled this man is and lighten his sentence if he agrees to prevent people doing this in the future. Its a nice happy ending for all involved: they caught their man (who they are never going to get $24M out of anyway...), he ends up spending his days doing something he obviously enjoys rather than rotting in a cell, and the company can rest assured it isn't going to happen again.

612.12.2004 19:19

That kind of thing only happens in movies or anime. But a good idea none the less.

712.12.2004 21:05

It was a true story

812.12.2004 23:03

Apparently Mullen caused enough headache and damage. But, each hacked card caused damages of $1,500? Over what time period? Is DirecTV really that expensive? Or is this the usual US justice game: con the con artist?

913.12.2004 9:27

This man did wrong but he got over 20 times more time than a house of Rep received for killing a man with his car. Where do the get this damage, did they pay roylties to hbo ect for this stolen transmition. I do not think so. but the bonus that that direct tv will give ceo for this free money will be high

1013.12.2004 11:06

" If he was good enough to crack their protection, then what makes them think they can get through his protection?" Directv hacking scrips were basically available to everyone as freeware for YEARS...until early this year when they introduced the P4 card. Almost anyone could do it with enough reading......just as you can with Dish today.

1114.12.2004 6:43

How do they get off calculating that Mr. Mullen COST DirecTV $24m? The math is based on a faulty premise, namely that if his "customers" hadn't got a hacked card from Mr. Mullen that they would have shelled out $1,500 to DirecTV to get a legitimate smart card. This is absurd. I seriously doubt that Mr. Mullen charged his customers that much. And it's likely that at his lower prices, he attracted clients that otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford the service. In a sense, he was reaching a market that DirecTV had priced out of reach.

1214.12.2004 9:36

This is all about Entering the United States Illegally after being deported years earlier. He will be deported from Federal (Detention) Center for Entering the U.S. Illegally (no time). This is **NOT** about DirecTV they (SUCK). Senior director of dtv has a lot of SHIT!!! Please Mr. director don't hurt me.(Ass Hole).

1314.12.2004 12:40

go to a pirate website and see what his daughter says. Mighty interesting. If you steal from these clowns, better not leave a trail

1414.12.2004 16:44

What pirate website? Would love to see.

1527.12.2004 11:08

directv sucks! they should be sentenced for ripping people off!

1629.12.2004 13:59

these assjacks crack me up. So, what they are saying is, unlimited DSS costs a little over $100 a month, yet, you can't get basic, and the movie channels for $100, let alone Sunday Ticket, all the cartoon channels, network affiliates and every other channel they charge you for! (oh, and don't forget the pr0n). I think they just pulled numbers out of their ass and said "Thats what he cost us". Like everything else, if they didn't charge so freakin' much, people wouldn't waste their time messing with this stuff, hell, I even read an article a couple years back that Celebs were even hacking DSS. They should just shut the hell up, let people who want to pay, pay (which will WELL cover the costs of operation, plus millions)and let everyone else play. Nt

171.1.2005 6:22

This is what happens when a country is run by business execs, and not by the politicians elected by the people. It seems to me that America is one fucked up country when its' people allow this to happen. GREED, GREED & even more GREED. I sometimes think that Communism is a better way to go. The 20 odd million people who died under Stalin & collectivisation would, however,disagree. Where money & people are involved, the people with the least money will ALWAYS be screwed. Why do the politicians always turn to corruption? In Britain our Civil service is what runs the country. The "Old boy" network is alive & kicking. I personally hate all governments. All they do is line their own pockets, screw everyone & then have the temerity to tell us how to live our lives while they all hop on the gravy train. I am not a socialist, communist, democrat, conservative, liberal, labour or republican. I am someone who cares about his country & the people who live in it. And someone who is fed up of being fed bullshit by a bunch of hypocrites & self satisfying dickheads. To jail a man for 7 years for signal theft is a sad indictment of todays society, more interested in money than people. Why do the Americans let this happen, why do us Brits let successive governments to reduce our liberties? All of this "if you are not with us, then you are against us" crap is beginning to really annoy me. Where the world will be in 20yrs is beyond me. Look at what has happened in Asia, with all of the military might of NATO, they cannot deploy any of its' resources to help these poor people. Bureauocracy is the bain of our society, as is governments telling us what we can & can't do. For our own good? My big fat hairy arse! Who do they think they are kidding? Just a little rant.

Gif by Phantom69

181.1.2005 6:27

In Britain child molestors & rapists get less than 7 years, time after time after time. Our country is really well & truly screwed up.

Gif by Phantom69

1921.10.2005 15:17

So nice to see that there are people who see this for what it actually is!! There is soooooo much more to this story. Keep your eyes posted for -will be a very interesting read for anyone interested in hacking, piracy & corporate scandals!! And yes, I am 'the daughter'....

208.2.2007 6:20

Our legal system is in chaos ... neither fair or impartial!

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