To Catch A Modern Warfare 2 Cyber-ThiefS

Modern Warfare 2 is already making an appearance at torrent sites all over the internet, but it could have been worse. Dean Takahashi reports on how IPCybercrime stopped one pirate from making his big score.

It all started with a Craigslist post, as many seedy stories these days do. Last Thursday a listing popped up for a Modern Warfare 2 Xbox 360 bundle, nearly two weeks before the eagerly anticipated game was supposed to hit store shelves. Activision hired Dallas private investigation firm IPCybercriume.com to track down the sale. A little investigative Facebook work later and the firm uncovered two men who had stolen a crate of the bundles from the back room at a video game retailer. They turned the criminals over to the store's loss prevention department, but that was only the beginning.

On the 30th of October, Activision directed IPCybercrime to an individual going by the handle cedelamo" and "cdelamo815," who had posted on an Xbox 360 ISO site requesting donations to buy one of the bundles so he could duplicate Modern Warfare 2. The investigators checked the email address used in the posts against Facebook users, which led them to a site offering console mods. From there they brokered a deal, acquired the culprit's cell phone number, and tracked him down at the address they had acquired through Facebook.

The investigators identified the culprit as 18-year-old Christian Del Amo, a modder known for selling hacked Xbox 360 hard drives filled with pirated games. IPCybercrime turned the investigation over to the Miami-Dade police department, which purchased a copy of Modern Warfare 2 from Del Amo, arrested the runner who had delivered the disc, who then led him directly to the Del Amo home, where the pirate was arrested.

"It all happened very fast," said Rob Holmes, owner of IPCybercrime. "If these guys get their stuff out, then they can do some major damage to sales and spoil it for everybody. We plug leaks every day, but this was one of the biggest ones of the year."

While the investigation didn't do much to curb the piracy already plaguing Modern Warfare 2, it is an excellent example of the lengths that publishers will go to in order to protect their property, as well as being proof that no matter how well you think you covered your tracks, they're probably not covered.

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How investigators tracked down a Modern Warfare 2 cyber pirate [VentureBeat]