EXCLUSIVE: Enteprising PSP Pirates Advertised on Craigslist, Says Sony

They say that you can sell just about anything on Craigslist. And if allegations by SCEA are correct, a pair of enterprising – if not especially bright – game pirates used the popular online service to advertise their illegal PSP modding operations.

In August SCEA filed suit in U.S. District Court in California, alleging that Gabriel Garcia and Timothy Joey Zoucha, Jr. modded PSPs and loaded them with over 500 pirated games. Both men live in San Jose, California.

In its complaint, Sony alleges that Garcia billed himself as: "THE ONLY TRUE FIRST PSP MODDER ON CRAIGSLIST," offering "cash only package deals" that included "500+ PSP games". Sony said that Garcia even went as far as to display a PlayStation logo in his Craigslist ad.

Sony apparently used private investigators to track the pair down. One P.I. met with Garcia at his residence, according to the complaint, and paid the alleged pirate $80 to mod a PSP and load it with 100 games. Garcia apparently advertised such a transaction as his "Super Spring Deal". The complaint further alleges that Garcia sold the investigator 11 DVD-Rs containing more games and then showed the investigator how to transfer the games to a PSP via PC. Ever-helpful, Garcia also gave the investigator a "How to Use Your PSP Mods" guide on DVD.

Among the pirated games allegedly sold by Garcia were Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Parappa the Rapper and Twisted Metal: Head On.

Zoucha was taken down in similar fashion, according to the complaint, which alleges that he agreed to mod the P.I.’s PSP for $28 and supply a DVD containing 100 pirated games for another twenty bucks. The complaint also says that, like Garcia, Zoucha sold the investigator five DVD-Rs containing additional pirated games and told the investigator that he would give her a deal if she brought him more PSPs to mod.

Among the titles allegedly supplied by Zoucha are: Burnout: Legends, Call of Duty: Roads to Victory and Madden NFL 08.

From the complaint:

Defendants Gabriel Garcia and Timothy Joey Zoucha, Jr… brazenly offer their services on Craigslist.org to "mod" or "unbrick" PSP consoles so as to allow illegal unauthorized copies of SCEA’s video game software to operate on the unlawfully modified PSP console… Defendants were caught red-handed…

A court date is scheduled later this month. Read the complaint here.

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  1. Kajex says:

    What’s the problem with charging to mod a console?

    It infringes on copyright. Let’s not get technical- it essentially means you’re taking somebody else’s product and making money off of it through a minor fix, at little-to-no expense on their own part. You might say it’s difficult because you haven’t obtained the necessary skills to do it yourself, but modding a console is relatively easy once you know how it’s down.

    You example in terms of "surgery" is a poor choice for comparison. Yes, people CAN copyright their own appearance, but not enough people do it to actually matter. If, for some demented reason, you wanted Michael Jackson’s nose, and he hasn’t copyrighted his nose, then you can have his nose. But once he says "I’m copyrighting my nose in the name of ME", then he has grounds to take you to court- unless you had it before he copyrighted it, but then it becomes difficult to prove whether or not that’s the case, and since you have Michael Jackson’s nose on your face, the judge is liable to not take you seriously. I mean… you have Michael Jackson’s nose. On your face.

    Regardless of the modding, however, I do agree that providing pirated software is still a problem.

  2. sqlrob says:

    What’s the problem with charging to mod a console? Do you do your own surgery too? I could probably program a PSP, but I can’t solder. Why shouldn’t I be able to pay someone to mod it? (For the record, my PSP isn’t modded. I get enough programming at work and I just want to play games)

    Do you object to Pandora’s Battery?

    When the modder provides pirated software *THEN* there’s a problem.


  3. mootyslayer says:

    I agree. If you download the games and try to sell them that is a different story. But if someone wants to mod there psp to allow them to play games they have bought but prefer to play from a memory card why is that a problem. Umd’s seem really fragile and seem to break real easy. What about the people that just use the psp to read ebooks or comics. Or a few of the other handy tools that can be added to the psp.

  4. Kajex says:

    … Apollo Justice said that. All Phoenix ever said was "Hold It!", "Take That!" and "Objection!" "Gotcha" was reserved exclusively for Apollo’s bug-eye "I CAN SEE INTO YOUR SOUL THROUGH YOUR NERVOUS TWITCH" moments.

    Unless you’re talking Japanese. In which case, I dunno.

  5. GoodRobotUs says:

    I must have been tired last night, I never even realised that ‘Enterprising’ is spelt wrong in the title 8)

  6. shobidoo says:

    A friend of mine had his PSP modded. Now i asked if it was illiegal too do that and he said its his he bought it he can do what he wants with it. i agree with that. 

  7. sarcasticassinjapan says:

     Interesting story, but just how is it exclusive? Are complaints filed in California not openly available to the public?

  8. Kajex says:

    And to all the ignorant people who make THAT the primary argument- you’re essentially saying that you can buy a balloon, but you can’t make it into a balloon animal; that you can buy a food product, but can’t serve it with a side dish. Once a peice of property becomes YOURS, you SHOULD be allowed to do what you’d like with it.

    If it voids warranty, fine- but that piece of the EULA is an example of a corporation prohibiting a consumer’s right to dabble in the product he paid money for. Fact is, many games and consoles alike have enjoyed longer lifespans of gameplay due to modding of hardware or software- look at the Dreamcast as a prime example. Civ4 has a huge modding community that holds notable distinction for the developers themselves changing gameplay in favor of those mods. And what about games like Morrowind that, upon release, were buggy as hell, and weren’t all that visually pleasing? You take a look now, and some of the more debilitating bugs and gameplay issues in that were quelled, not by the developers, but by modders. Some mods have even spawned new games altogether- like Counter-strike, which became so popular that Valve picked it up and actually hired the guys who made it, and remains one of the most popular online tactical shooters out there.


    When you start charging people for modding the console, THEN it becomes a problem.

  9. Spartan says:

    EULAs are control tools that are frankly pretty much worthless. Funny I have never seen them on any other hardware.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  10. cpu64 says:

    To all the ignorant people saying that you can do whatever you want with your PSP… Just because you didn’t READ the user agreement that comes with your console/games, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t apply to your system/game.

    Your tired defensive arguments are getting old… fast.

  11. Kajex says:

    Personal opinion- if you get a console, and decide to break it open to tune it up in a way that allows it to set babies alight with balls of shiney graphics, that’s all well and good.

    When you take that experience and turn it to modding for money… that can be a problem. That’s dipping into the realm of copyright infringement- that’s when you’re making money off of somebody else’s product with relatively little cost in terms of your own personal expense. If the service were provided for free, fine- but in this case, it ain’t.

    Regardless of my opinion, however, it wouldn’t have taken a genius to know that other people take console modding seriously enough to bring out the lawyers and law books. Advertising your service so freely and foolishly… even if they HADN’T been charging people for it, it was still a stupid move. And bad enough that it was PSPs, but now the companies of any pirated game they showed off also has a hand in this case with which to smack them upside the head with out of spite and legality.

  12. MaskedPixelante says:

    Well, being the ones who are claiming piracy is going on, of course THEY’RE going to over-react and blow the statistics out of proportion.

    —You are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

  13. GoodRobotUs says:

    I have to agree that saying ‘illegally modded PSP’ is misleading.

    By all means, sue their asses into the dirt for selling illegal copies of games, but don’t try to twist events, that takes a good intention and soils it somewhat.

  14. elal says:

    That last bit I can agree with. These guys are guilty of one thing at the very least, and that is absurd stupidity.

    Basically, they must have been thinking along these lines: ‘Hello, I’m running an illegal business, but I thought the smartest idea was to get it all in writing and say it as plainly as possible where millions could see it.’

  15. mogbert says:

    See, this is the kind of piracy which I see as REAL piracy. Downloading an MP3 is copyright infringement, NOT piracy. Real piracy is when someone sells pirated games or sells pirated music or movies.

    In my opinion, which doesn’t yet carry the weight of law (perhaps after I take over the world), the difference is that if someone is willing to pay for a product, then the company really lost a sale. I guess the main difference for me is the difference in scale and loss of sales. If you download an MP3 with a program which also uploads it, let’s face it, the music is already out there, even if you hadn’t downloaded it, that wouldn’t have prevented even one more person from getting the song. This is the failure of the ideo that you uploaded it to 100 people who inturn uploaded it to 100 people, making each song worth $15,000. That only makes sense if you were the first one to upload it.

    These people were charging people to mod their PSP and then selling them pirated games. They were advertising their business, which is monstrously stupid when you run an illegal business. Then they even used the Playstation logo. To quote Casey Jones: "Trademark infringement, how low can you go?!?"

  16. Freyar says:

    Kick their asses for selling pirated material. Whatever value they can *REASONABLY* expect them to have sold. Get them for impersonating the company, and possible reputation loss.


    Done, next?

    —- There is a limit for both politicians against video games, and video games against politicians. http://www.goteamretard.com

  17. Vash-HT says:

     Meh, jsut because a psp is modded does not mean you are stealing games for it. My friend has his modded just to put ps1 games (that he owns) onto it. The psp is capable of running most ps1 games but it has to be "illegally" modified to do so.

  18. VideolandHero says:

    Just because you buy a PSP, it doesn’t mean you get to steal games for it.

    — Official Protector of Videoland!

  19. Mnementh2230 says:

     Ammunition is a lot easier to fabricate than a weapon…  If I have a gun and no bullets, it’s not terribly hard to make something that the gun will fire.

  20. Loudspeaker says:

    Uhm… WRONG!

    A gun isn’t worthless without ammo.  It can still be used as a weapon.

    Today’s game consoles are not useless either.  The PS3 can play Blu-ray disks and MANY who bought that console use it for exactly that.  XBox 360 plays DVDs. 

    Your argument is severely flawed.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  21. elal says:

    There’s an ever so slight difference between hurting your pocket versus taking somone’s life. And besides which, dont you mean the bullet makers would use that? A gun is worthless without ammo, as is the console without a game.

  22. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    While classifieds in the local paper are indeed fairly blatant, Craigslist is much more accessible to people now since all you need is a computer. I’ve seen hundreds of these modders, and I really don’t give a shit about modders unless they blatantly feel the need to point out that their service is a great deal because it comes with a hundred games. The problem is much more widespread as individual modding, and video games in general have become much more ubiquitous in the last ten years.

  23. aphexbr says:


    Sorry but what difference does it make if they advertised on Craigslist? Would it be news if they advertised on a newspaper’s website or left a card in the local post office? Of course not. 20 years ago, you could look at ads in the paper or a gaming magazine and see people offering to mod your SNES or get a cart with 100 NES games on it. Craigslist is irrelevant, apart from the fact that’s what the target market would be looking at.

  24. Father Time says:

    Considering the cost and development time difference between games and bullets I’m not sure if you can compare the two.


    God created alcohol so that the Scottish and the Irish could never take over the world. -Chris ‘Jedi’ Knight

  25. shady8x says:

    In that case you are a bullet counterfeiter!!!!


    I was just trying to say what would be equivalent if gun manufacturers acted like game companies…

    and one thing they would do is state which specific companies bullets you could buy for their gun… region locked guns… and obviously home brew bullet makers would be criminals…

  26. Austin_Lewis says:

    I have never heard of an ‘unauthorized bullet manufacturer’.  Shit, in my basement I have all the tools to reload my own ammunition because its getting too expensive to buy ammo, and honestly, I like to have that quality assurance. 

  27. shady8x says:

    since the stuff is being used for unintended puposes, I would say that an equavalent would be if a killer hit a person over the head with a gun rather than shooting and the gun manufacturer sued him for unitended use… as in for NOT shooting…

    or modifying a semi-automatic to fully automatic…

    or putting a silencer on it…

    or putting a clip of bullets into a gun that is made by an unauthorised bullet manufacturer…

  28. mootyslayer says:

    The only reason why this was even mentioned was because they tried to sell the psp’s with pirated games. Modding your psp system is just different code then what sony provides. A modded operating system so to speak. It unlocks the full potential of the psp. I do have a modded system but its used mainly for reading ebooks. And has not been used for games in months.

    Essentialy it would be like if you decided to buy a laptop with vista on it. But you decided that you would rather have XP or Linux on it. Is that wrong of you to change something on your computer when you paid for it and now own it?



  29. Keith K says:

    Posessing the means to run pirated software is no crime. Its not a crime to own a debug console. Its not a crime to have a software emulator. The software is not installed on the device, it is kept separate on disc or memory card. The means by which PSPs in particular can run pirated software is the same means by which it can run any unsigned code, open or closed-source.

  30. strathmeyer says:

    Huh? Isn’t a device with pirated software on it unlawfully modified? As in, modifications were made to the device that added pirated software to it?

  31. TheSurRealFakeJackThompson says:

    As a former lawyer….and I apologize because in reality I quit being a lawyer a long time ago…so it might be a slight reach for me to remember…

    If they make money or use such acts or images for commercial properties there is grounds.


    ..I apologize for that…

  32. Father Time says:

    I think the most they can do is get them for littering if they leave pieces behind. Oh and they MIGHT be able to get thme for disturbing the peace, but I am no lawyer nor have I read up on the law so I don’t know. But it happened so long ago and there’s been nothing in terms of charges so prosecuting them now would seem like such a waste.


    God created alcohol so that the Scottish and the Irish could never take over the world. -Chris ‘Jedi’ Knight

  33. Hannah says:

    I’ve only ever used it to look for a place to live.  It’s VERY useful if you’re looking for rental accommodation/roommates.

  34. GrimCW says:

    didn’t somebody do that to the original Xbox and Gamecube as well?

    bought it, went out to their car in front of the best buy they got them at, and smashed them to bits right there in the lot….

  35. Father Time says:

    He did that with the Wii and 360 too. Seeing some of the hate mail they get is pretty amusing. Sadly though he was absent when the iPhone was released (odd though because he started with smashing ipods).

    God created alcohol so that the Scottish and the Irish could never take over the world. -Chris ‘Jedi’ Knight

  36. Father Time says:

    "(though not sure how that is their bussiness unless they distributed or made the games)"

    They did make Twisted Metal: Head on.


    God created alcohol so that the Scottish and the Irish could never take over the world. -Chris ‘Jedi’ Knight

  37. Austin_Lewis says:

    Man, I hope modding doesn’t become illegal in other industries.  Otherwise, I know a lot of guitar and gun companies that are gonna sue me.

  38. JustChris says:

    It really sucks that the legitimate reasons for modding get overlooked by Sony. If only Sony released public dev kits like Microsoft did with XNA, Sony wouldn’t have to think that firmware modding is just about piracy. All that matters is that I can keep playing a Geometry Wars clone on the go, or the open source Quake port.

  39. sirdarkat says:

    "unlawfully modified PSP console"  that just gripes me every time … it’s my PSP if I want to crack the case and sodder crap all over it I should be allowed to crack the case and sodder crap all over it … this is the only industry I have seen that says when I buy a piece of machinery that I can be sued if I modifiy it … you know how many funny lawsuits I would have gotten to file if say Creative Labs claimed that with their sound cards … Excuse me Judge this man unlawfully soddered a coxial cable directly to his Sound Blaster card  … that type of unlawful behavior is just not allowed with our product that bastard should be punished and he should give us money … next thing you know I will get a email from Asus telling me that my modification to place led lights on their mother board is unlawful and I should be punished for it (and yes I’m a nerd my computer has blue and red lights inside the case so it lights up).

    Now granted I’m sure their main complaint is the 500+ illegally pirated games (though not sure how that is their bussiness unless they distributed or made the games) … but trying to sneak in wording that says moding a console or anything for that matter should be illegal is just BS.  Especially when such modding can be used for very legit reason, unlocking the potential of the device to do other things, running linux because you are into that stuff, or hell playing a backed up copy of a game that you are "legally" allowed to have (or if you want to even be an Apple fan boy, unlocking the crapPhone so you can use it elsewhere).

  40. Cecil475 says:

    "Once I buy it, it’s mine (Unless it’s PC software from EA). I can throw it off a building and ‘modify’ to a million pieces if I wish."

    Remember the idiots who bought the Wii/PS3/XBOX 360 on launch day and smashed them outside, while people waiting in line for theirs?

    Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft can’t touch them.

    Or can they?

     – Warren Lewis

    R.i.P GamePolitics 2005-2016

  41. DeepThorn says:

    That reminds me of the guy that waited in line for a PS3 just to smash it in front of all of the people that were still in line to get one.

  42. Keith K says:

    Unlawfully modified? Hardly.

    Once I buy it, it’s mine (Unless it’s PC software from EA). I can throw it off a building and ‘modify’ to a million pieces if I wish.

    You caught them selling pirated software. That’s the only law they’ve broken.

  43. sirdarkat says:

    Craig List is basically a public ad service for the internet … so instead of posting a classified ad in the local newspaper you can do it in Craig List, though I always thought it was just used for one sexual deviant to meet another sexual deviant … I ddin’t actually ever think of it in the light of people using it to sale services and stuff.

  44. ezbiker555 says:

    Someone tell me what craig list again, i thought i heard something about that before somewhere eles.


    _________________________ And the rain will kill us all… We throw ourselves against the walls.. but no one else can see…. the preservation of the martyr in me…. Psychosocial

  45. Spartan says:

    There wont ever be a law telling me I can’t change ANY hardware I buy that I will give any credence to. If the manufacture will agree prior to the sell to buy back the hardware I’m purchasing then and only then will I consider it something I can’t change. Otherwise fuck them and fuck IPR laws and the people that shove them down our throats.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  46. Volomon says:

    They said DVD(s) also your not taking into account compression.  Nor the types of games.  Anyway that was pretty dumb Sony is good to be proactive against Pirates their PSP suffers heavily from it.  Even with the knowledge and know how I have never and would never pirate on the PSP it is a system (as in the process to make games) that can easily be broken down.  Its the main reason why people don’t develop on it and some of the bigger projects tend to be from Sony rather than a 3rd party.

    I also don’t think they are against modding, they are against mods that help load UMDs directly to the PSP, which equals illegally modified.  If they were against modding and open source they wouldn’t open up the PS3 or the PSP to such things in the first place.  

    Hopefully though they really lock down the next PSP, hate to ruin everyones modding fun but some go the extra step and kill MY chance at more games and better games.  These people have very little morals to support what they like and instead want everything for free.

  47. aedile says:

    Last time I checked, most UMD ISO’s clock in at somewhere between 250mb-1gb with few exceptions (even after compression).  Somehow I doubt the claim that they were stuffing 100 games onto a DVD.


  48. MartyB says:

    "That’s the game developer’s problem if you can pirate their game."

    nice…Maybe killers should use that….  It’s the gun manufacture’s problem if i can shoot it.


    just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should…

    or i have to use..  "With great Powers come great responsibility"

  49. elal says:

    Well, they aren’t the brightest crayons in the box, but piracy isn’t exactly new. Is it really any surprise? And is it really their concern? That’s the game developer’s problem if you can pirate their game.

Comments are closed.