Local News

Cable Decoders Object of Crack Down

Posted August 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A Raleigh warehouse was raided last month as part of a federal crack down on mail order sales of illegal cable TV converter boxes. Sale or use of the devices is a federal crime.

Agents rounded up 141 cartons of altered converters, along with business records. In past cases, agents have used the records to track purchasers of the devices. Typically, they are given the option of turning in the doctored boxes or facing prosecution.

Police said the Raleigh firm, ADD-On Cable Co, made $5 million in sales in one year. They said the company is owned by Daniel E. Harrell.

"There's a huge pirate industry out there that siphons off millions of dollars a year from cable operators and ultimately increases the cost of cable to honest customers," Mark Prak, Raleigh attorney for the local Time Warner Cable division toldThe News & Observer.

The boxes, which initially cost about $35, are reconfigued to enable purchasers to get premium channels for free. The doctored boxes are sold for between $300 and $400 each.

Neither Harrell nor his attorney was available for comment.