A Korean raid has uncovered a pirate hoard of Nintendo wares worth nearly $90 million.
A Nintendo software piracy ring was taken down by the Korean Customs Service earlier this week as part of an investigation ongoing since April of this year. 25 alleged software pirates were arrested by KCS, 15 of whom were managers for online shopping sites that sold and distributed the illegal wares.
The 30-strong Customs team seized 90,000 pirated games in the raid. The bust also yielded an inventory of R4, DSTT and DSTTi cartridges, which are used to play homebrewed games for the Nintendo DS. According to the KCS, the value of the illegal goods was estimated to be up to 100 billion won (or $87.2 million USD).
The cartridges were sold with memory cards already pre-loaded with illegal game downloads. Some packages included 16GB memory cards, which could potentially hold up to 300 games. Online shopping website managers sold the game packages for up to 100,000 won ($87 USD), and guaranteed that customers were receiving a "100 percent authentic" product with "perfect after-sales service." Managers eluded the authorities by hosting websites overseas, changing the sites' IP addresses, and running day-to-day operations at internet cafes. The ring also hired part-time workers to manage the websites, and opened bank accounts and phones in other people's names.
KCS official Min Byeong-jo was concerned that younger customers would be desensitised to the implications of using pirated goods. "Considering that most of the game users are adolescents and children, such illegal purchases will make the kids less guilty in terms of illegal acts," he says.