As it tries to renew its franchise on home soil, broadcast giant ABS-CBN said it has filed two civil complaints in US federal courts against two individuals in a piracy network spanning across US state lines, seeking damages in the millions for allegedly pirating its copyrighted content via illegal IPTV boxes.
One lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court, Southern District of Texas against Alberto Ace Mayol Alfaro. The second lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court, Central District of California against Romula Araneta “Jon” Castillo.
In addition, Castillo was arrested on February 7, 2020 by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) after an undercover sting operation for his alleged violations of California Penal Code 593(d). Undercover officers purchased five boxes from Castillo, and confirmed one was streaming illegal content live on the scene.
The arrest and accompanying civil lawsuits mark the first actions this year by ABS-CBN in a coming wave against the nationwide epidemic of IPTV box-sellers.
ABS-CBN conducted a months-long investigation into the scheme perpetrated by Castillo and his cousin, Alfaro, including undercover purchases from the targets. The lawsuits allege that Castillo and Alfaro engaged in a multi-state scheme to sell pirated set-top boxes to the unsuspecting public.
The lawsuits further allege that Castillo and Alfaro’s pirated set-top boxes enabled buyers to access ABS-CBN’s live programming without paying the appropriate fees for such products, causing irreparable harm and damages to ABS-CBN.
“We are thankful for the cooperation of the LA Police Dept. in investigating and arresting Castillo, a kingpin in this pirate box scheme. Defrauding the public by selling these fake boxes is a scam operation and preying on innocent people. We are very happy to have the cooperation of the police to enforce against these pirates,” said ABS-CBN Global anti-piracy head Elisha Lawrence.