General Question

JellyRider's avatar

How do people who steal Dish\DirecTV get caught?

Asked by JellyRider (64points) July 12th, 2010

Yes I understand it’s illegal. I’m not asking how to do it.

A friend of mine was recently served with a letter from DirecTV who knew about what he was doing. How could they have found him?

A satellite is only a receiver. Connection is uni-directional. The satellite does NOT broadcast. Is there anyway they can track the RECEIVING of signals?

He did buy the equipment with his credit card some time ago, so thats my guess.

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16 Answers

theichibun's avatar

I know with cable one way to get caught is for someone who is legitimately paying for it to complain about the quality, then when it gets checked on they find out that the person stealing it spliced the cable line.

JellyRider's avatar

Well ya that’s cable and easier to catch people. You are tapping into a physical medium and on the digital boxes are communicating bidirectionally with the head end.

seekingwolf's avatar

They must have some way of tracking (with their satellite) what their signals go to and if the receivers belong to paying customers.

SmashTheState's avatar

My guess is someone saw the satellite dish. They’d have no other way to know. My philosophy is, if you’re sleeting radiation through my fucking body, then you have absolutely NO say in what I do with that radiation. If you don’t want me using your radiation, STOP SHOOTING IT AT ME you fuckers.

JellyRider's avatar


You can NOT track things that people merely receive. Radar guns and other such devices work on the fact that they beam a signal at an object and RECEIVE what is reflected back.

Satellite dishes receive radiation in the air and manipulate the digital data. There is no bidirectional communication, none, nada.

But he still got caught….

seekingwolf's avatar


Well, you can’t be entirely sure because he did get caught, right?

I figure that there must be some bidirectional communication going on. If there were none, then how would the companies stop people from abusing the service? They couldn’t.

JellyRider's avatar

The satellite dish is not big enough\powerful enough to transmit signals, especially back to space. It is ONLY a receiver. There is no bidirectional communication, only through the phone line when you legitimately order PPV. Hacked boxes do not plug into the line.

john65pennington's avatar

His credit card was the hero. after making his purchase, the serial number of his unit was apparently sent to Dish/Direct. thier computer made the discovery. these people know what channels you watch and at what date and time. never under estimate the power of a computer to tract down a crime.

UScitizen's avatar

What @john65pennington relates is one possible path. It is routinely confirmed by: “We’re giving away the most stuff, the best deal ever. All you have to do is call,” which is, of course, targeted to the suspected thieves. When they call, ... busted.

CMaz's avatar

They either saw the dish. Noticed he was not with them and sent out a letter. Bluffing him.

Or, when a hacked box is purchased. Sometimes that shipping company knows that the package is a hacked receiver and notifies the proper people.

In parts of the world where hacked receivers are not illegal. It is because you are on the edge of the satellite signal, still being able to get reception. But not in the country of origin. Where is it illegal to “steal” signal.

One more option. He plugged the box into a phone line or internet for updates.

wundayatta's avatar

Don’t you need a box to decode the encrypted signal?

From what I understand, there is equipment that can detect electrical signals from a computer in another room and recreate the words that are being typed. Supposedly a CIA kind of technology.

Perhaps there is a device that can detect the unique signal of a satellite signal decoder from a distance. Maybe they drive around with such a machine in a van, seeing if there are such signals coming from places they shouldn’t.

But I go for the “trap” hypothesis.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You have to plug it into your phone during the initial setup. That’s when they get the equipment numbers and the account information.
You can disconnect from your phone, unless you want pay per view. But they already have your number.

Brian1946's avatar

According to , “The provider may occasionally send signals that disrupt illegal de-scramblers, as an electronic counter measure (ECM) against illegal users.”

It could be that his service was interrupted by an ECM signal and he then called to get it restored. Even if he didn’t give them his address they might have used caller ID to track him down.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Each receiver has a unique fingerprint and the provider must activate each and every receiver associated with the real customer’s account. If there is traffic to an unauthorized receiver, the provider can detect this.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m wondering if maybe he bragged to someone who was paying for the service and they turned him in out of spite.

twelveclowns's avatar

Not sure if it’s still done this way, but cable TV providers have “sniffer” vans that drive around and look for signals leaked from the cable system. This service is so as to keep withing FCC limits for “interference” of their TV signal into the environment. While sniffing for signals they also would verify whom in the neighborhood had cable and check this against their list of subscribers.

I presume this can be done with satellite also (in the case of satellite service, sniffing for local oscillator or other local signal from the receiver system)...?

It would be helpful to know what the friend had to do as the setup procedure: did he have to connect to Internet or phone system? Was this at his residence? That would surely get him busted.

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