U.S. Customs Raid Mod Chip Sellers

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United States Immigration and Customs agents raided over 30 homes and businesses on Wednesday, searching for “mod chips” for popular consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

The raids included 32 search warrants spread over 16 states, according to the agency. They came after a year-long investigation by Custom’s Office of the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Cleveland, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice. The names of those under investigation were not released.

“Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections,” said Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Julie L. Myers. “These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering.”

So-called “mod chips” are used to bypass region coding in game consoles, allowing gamers to play imported and homebrew games; they are also often employed to defeat anti-piracy schemes. While illegal in the U.S. under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the devices are legal in other nations (sometimes under specific conditions) and are readily available for purchase.

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