Cable pirates strike back with 'invincible' illegal smart card

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 12:00am

It took Apliu Street's pirates only two days to bounce back from efforts to foil their sales of illegal smart cards that hack into Cable TV transmissions.

As the clock ticked down to the Euro 2004 soccer championship at midnight on Sunday, football fans lined up to buy the smart cards. But they were blocked by Cable TV, which changed its broadcast signal minutes before the first match.

Users of those illegal cards saw only blank screens.

The pirates apparently kept their heads low for two days to avoid angry customers rather than to evade police and customs officials.

But yesterday, the pirates were back in force on Apliu Street, selling a new 'invincible' smart card for just $150.

'This [new smart] card will work [even when Cable TV changes signals again],' promised a cigarette-smoking racketeer, who was selling the cards in broad daylight.

He and his associates hailed the cards as 'invincible', claiming they would automatically trace the new signals if the broadcaster alters its codes.

The pirates had set up two television sets at their roadside stall, showing Cable TV programmes, to demonstrate that they had successfully cracked the broadcaster's signals again. A sign dangling overhead promised: 'satisfaction guaranteed'.

Almost 30 onlookers were packed in front of the screens.

When one man decided to buy a new smart card, the seller quickly pulled one out of the decoder they had been using - to show that the card actually worked.

'That's $150,' he told his customer while handling over the card, before writing out a receipt for the buyer.

The smart card carried a sticker saying 'new', to distinguish it from old cards that have been rendered useless by Cable TV's defensive tactics.

The decoder sellers apparently even took orders over the phone.

'Come here and answer the phone,' said one man, who was working as a lookout down the street. 'Someone wants to get a new decoder.'