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Cable Decoders Object of Crack Down

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

Agents rounded up 141 cartons of altered converters, along withbusiness records. In past cases, agents have used the records to trackpurchasers of the devices. Typically, they are given the option of turningin the doctored boxes or facing prosecution.

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

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

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

Neither Harrell nor his attorney was available for comment.

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