Police raid game console modders

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Washington DC – Agents from the United States Immigration and Customs (ICE) agency have raided 32 game console modders across several states.  The modders sold boards and CDs that allowed gamers to play counterfeit and custom games on popular consoles like the Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 2.

In a press release, ICE says agents from 22 offices executed search warrants on businesses and homes in 16 states including California, New York, Texas and Illinois this morning.  The agency isn’t giving any specifics about the cases or the names of those arrested.

Modding a game console typically requires installing a small board or “mod chip” on the motherboard of the console.  The board effectively bypasses BIOS and firmware on the console allowing it to play copied game discs.  Early versions of these boards required some soldering and a fair amount of technical know how to install, but recent models don’t use any tools for the installation.

ICE and the Entertainment Software Association claims that billions of dollars are lost annually due to the activities of game console modders.  Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the money earned through mod chip sales help fund other crimes and added, "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."