Nova Scotia

RCMP charge Halifax-area couple with pirating TV programming

A Nova Scotia couple has been charged with allegedly pirating copyrighted television programming and reselling it at a discount. The charges cap a 15-month investigation the Mounties dubbed Operation Hotwire.

Charges follow 15-month investigation called Operation Hotwire

The charges follow a 15-month RCMP investigation dubbed Operation Hotwire. (Robert Short/CBC)

The Nova Scotia RCMP have charged a Bedford, N.S., couple with allegedly pirating copyrighted television programming and reselling it at a discount.

The charges against Riad Tomeh, 36 and his wife Kayla, 33, cap a 15-month federal investigation the Mounties dubbed Operation Hotwire.

RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau said a Nova Scotia telecommunications company went to police in June of last year to allege the Tomehs were streaming large amounts of what's called Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) for profit. RCMP would not say exactly what programming was being resold.

In August of last year, RCMP searched the couple's Shoreview Drive home and seized electronic equipment and financial documents.

In August of this year, RCMP laid 25 copyright-related charges against the Tomehs, most of which allege the couple obtained properties, vehicles and bank accounts through the proceeds of crime. Kayla Tomeh is also accused of laundering proceeds of crime.

Police have seized two vehicles and restrained bank accounts and 14 properties, including their home, a second house and 12 lots of land.

Croteau said all the property targeted by RCMP is worth more than a million dollars.

"This was a good investigation with many partners including the forensic accounting management group and the financial transaction reports and analysis centre, which some people know as FINTRAC," Croteau said, "as well as with the RCMP and the other different agencies that assisted as well."

If convicted, the couple could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

They are scheduled to appear in Nova Scotia provincial court later this month to answer to the charges.

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Blair Rhodes

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Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

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