Last year, Sean O’Toole was named by US authorities as the ring-leader of scene release group, RISCISO. After being ordered to appear in a Chicago court during February 2006 and facing 5 years in a US jail, a $250,000 fine plus a possible million-dollar restitution claim, O’Toole disappeared.
Founded in 1993, RISCISO was a warez release group, dedicated to the distribution of the latest software and media. RISCISO is an acronym representing ‘Rise in Superior Couriering’ and ISO, which refers to an ISO 9660 disk image.
According to the USDOJ, RISCISO was responsible for the pirating of $6.5m worth of computer games, software and movies and were operational up until the summer of 2005. The group was blamed for being the original pirate source of tens of thousands of pirated works with transfers of 19 terrabytes of data on just one of their servers.
Following an undercover investigation, the FBI executed approximately 90 search warrants in 11 countries resulting in 19 defendants being charged with one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, 15 of them with one additional count each of copyright infringement.
Sean O’Toole, who used the nickname “chucky”, is a 27-year-old computer expert from Perth, Australia and was considered by US authorities to have been the group leader. He allegedly set the policy for the group, managed access to the servers and transferred copyrighted material from other sites he controlled. No charges had been laid against him in Australia but nevertheless, an FBI request resulted in a raid on O’Toole’s home.
He was ordered to appear in a Chicago court on February 22nd 2006 but disappeared from his parents home in Perth and despite a worldwide search, hasn’t been seen since. US District Court judge Amy St Eve issued a warrant for his arrest. “He’s still a fugitive” said assistant US district attorney, Pravin Rao.
Members of the group were completely unaware that there was a ‘CW’ in their group – also known as a ‘Co-operating Witness’. The main RISCISO server was maintained by this ‘CW’ who was also assisting the government with its investigation of the group. According to the indictment, it was O’Toole himself who gave the infiltrator “physical and root access” to their main server.
US district attorney Pravin Rao said that O’Toole was the only fugitive and that other RISCISO members had been detained and are awaiting their trial. “We have 12 defendants who have entered guilty pleas and five defendants who are headed toward a trial which will start in January 2008,” Rao said.
Previously, Hew Raymond Griffiths who is also Australian, was extradited to the United States and is facing five years in a US prison after admitting being the leader of notorious warez group, DrinkOrDie.