Federal copyright charges against Bedford pair

The Nova Scotia RCMP has charged two people in relation to Operation Hotwire, a federal investigation into piracy of copyrighted television programming.

In June 2019, Nova Scotia RCMP Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) began an investigation following a complaint from a telecommunications company that an individual was streaming large amounts of its television programming through Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) for profit. The telecommunications company filed the complaint after it conducted a lengthy internal investigation into the matter.

On August 14, 2019 Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC, with the support of investigators from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, searched a home on Shore Drive in Bedford. Through the search, investigators seized electronic equipment and financial documents. A 35-year old man from Bedford was arrested at the home without incident. The man was later released from police custody.

On August 13, 2020, the Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC filed court documents related to charges against two individuals in Bedford and on September 3, a Restraint Order and Special Search Warrant was issued. On September 9, 14 properties were restrained, including two houses and 12 plots of land, and two vehicles were seized.

The 15-month investigation was assisted by the RCMP’s federal partners, including the Forensic Accounting Management Group (FAMG) and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

The Nova Scotia RCMP FSOC laid 25 copyright related charges against the following people. The charges were laid September 1.

Riad Thomeh, 36, from Bedford has been charged with:

·         Possession of a Device to Obtain Use of Telecommunication Facility or Service

·         Laundering the Proceeds of Crime

·         Possession of Property Obtained by Crime x18

·         Distribute Copyrighted Material – Copyright Act

·         Re-transmit Encrypted Programming Signal – Radiocommunication Act

·         Decode Encrypted Programming Signal – Radiocommunication Act

Kayla Thomeh, 33, from Bedford, has been charged with:

·         Laundering the Proceeds of Crime

·         Possession of Property Obtained by Crime

Three companies operated by Riad and Kayla Thomeh are also facing 44 charges, including Possession of a Device to Obtain Use of Telecommunication Facility or Service, Laundering the Proceeds of Crime and Possession of Property Obtained by Crime, as well as charges under the Copyright Act and the Radiocommunication Act.

Infringement of Canada’s Copyright Act is a federal offence. Maximum penalties are a five-year sentence, a $1M fine or both.

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