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Press Release

Oregon Man Sentenced in Boston to 36 Months in Prison for
Helping Thousands Steal Internet Service

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – A Redmond, Ore., man was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for his participation in a scheme to help thousands steal internet service, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of the District of Massachusetts announced. 

Ryan Harris, 29, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf in the District of Massachusetts.  In addition to his prison term, Harris was sentenced to three years of supervised release.  He was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $152,370 in restitution.  Harris was convicted by a jury on March 1, 2012, of seven counts of wire fraud. 

The evidence presented at trial established that Harris was the owner of TCNISO, a company that distributed products enabling users to steal Internet service.  From 2003 through 2009, Harris developed and distributed hardware and software tools that allowed his customers to modify their cable modems so that they could disguise themselves as paying subscribers and obtain Internet service without paying.  The products included a “packet sniffer,” which Harris dubbed “Coax Thief.”  “Coax Thief” surreptitiously intercepted (or “sniffed”) Internet traffic so that the user obtained the media access control addresses and configuration files of surrounding modems.  TCNISO and Harris also offered ongoing customer support, primarily through forums hosted on the TCNISO website, to assist customers in their cable modem hacking activities.  Harris gained $400,000 to $1 million in sales revenue. 

The case was investigated by the Boston Field Offices of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam J. Bookbinder of the District of Massachusetts’s Computer Crimes Unit.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 12-822