One of the most curious ongoing piracy cases in the world right now involves popular YouTuber Bill Omar Carrasquillo, aka OMI IN A HELLCAT.
In November 2019, the apparently mega-rich founder of pirate IPTV service Gears TV and Gears Reloaded took to YouTube to declare that he’d been raided by FBI and IRS agents who took pretty much everything he had.
A fleet of supercars and at least $5m in funds from his bank accounts were among the haul, he claimed, assertions that he later repeated in several YouTube videos and even a TV interview with CBS News.
But while most people involved in copyright and tax evasion matters tend to remain tight-lipped while their cases are ongoing, Carrasquillo is taking the opposite approach. For reasons best known to him, he’s talking about his problems and history every week, giving additional details that previously hadn’t been in the public eye.
An interview with fellow YouTube channel ‘Say Cheese TV‘ this week has only poured more fuel on the fire, with Carrasquillo revealing that he got into piracy after an unpleasant experience that ended his previously-rumored drug-dealing days.
“I got into this little altercation where I got robbed. That’s the last time I ever sold drugs, on July 4, 2014. I and I said ‘you know what, fuck this’, I ain’t never gonna sell drugs again,” he said.
After this experience, OMI said he went through a few weeks of depression but then a couple of months later a thought popped into his head as a way to make money – Firestick.
“Once that Firestick popped in my head I was like, ‘You know what, I was broke before and I sold DVDs’,” he said.
Noting that the plastic discs are now more or less obsolete, he says he wanted to find a way to deliver content to people digitally – while making some money of course.
“I gotta find a way to put digital movies onto a stick and that’s how it started. Back when Kodi was poppin’ I was one of the first ones doing Kodi sticks and that’s how I started making a lot of money. Buying these boxes from Amazon already pre-loaded and just re-selling them for more money. I’d buy them for $50 and sell them for $120-$150 and that’s how it started,” he told Say Cheese.
At the time OMI says he had 10-15 ‘bands’ ($10-$15,000) put aside in savings but the Firestick business gained traction and quickly brought in a lot more money.
“I first called my brother I said, ‘You know, I’m making five bands [$5,000] a week. And he said, ‘You ain’t making no five bands a week’. I said ‘I swear to God, off these Firestick things’.”
Then according to Carrasquillo, the business began to skyrocket.
“Two months later I’m making $15,000, then a month later – three months later, I’m making $30,000 a week, then $40,000 a week, then $100,000 a week. Damn, $200,000 a week, $300,000 a week, $400,000 a week. I thought, ‘What the fuck am I doing here?”
After just 12 months the big milestone was reached.
“I became a millionaire after a year,” OMI said. “I did good, made a couple of million. But 2017 to 2018? My God.”
What’s important to note here is that OMI says he didn’t get rich by selling Firesticks to individuals, one by one, piece by piece. The business of selling pre-loaded sticks was only a prelude to his major cash generator – the launch of his own pirate IPTV service.
“What happened was I made these apps, I made an app called Gears TV. If you ever watched anything with a Gears TV app on it, that was mine. The app sold for about a year and a half, two years ago,” he said.
“So I’m living my regular life. Now I’m making a couple of hundred ‘bands’ [$200k] every day, every other day. I don’t want to get into specific details about how much money I’m making because I’m still fighting this case. But I’m seeing [millions]. Like too many millions.”
The key is that OMI wasn’t making millions simply from selling an app. He doesn’t go into huge detail during his interviews but it’s clear that the users of the Gears app also required a recurring subscription, which meant that money was coming in all the time through resellers of the service.
“They’re buying but these people that I sold the app to still have to pay me my bread. So everything they’re making off that app, they got to fork it over. Cos I was selling the app for 40 ‘M’s….to a couple of people….to a group.”
By any standard, the amounts being discussed here are considerable, especially in the light of a supposed ongoing copyright infringement and tax evasion investigation. But of course, there will still be people out there thinking they’d like a piece of that action, a point not lost on Say Cheese who asked if Carrasquillo had any tips for fans thinking of starting up a similar service.
“Listen, what I did – it takes hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of infrastructure to do what I did. I started with the slow grind and I got to where I got to. But trust me, where we was at in 2014, 2015, 2016, you would never get to that point now,” he responded.
“The Feds are trying to cut down every streaming app – and streaming ain’t illegal. Illegal was the movies. You can’t host movies, that’s the illegal part. That’s why I think they’re having such a hard time with this case, it’s because I wasn’t fucking with movies. It was a straight streaming app, I wasn’t stealing channels, I was paying for my cable boxes, I was paying for my cable service.
“And that’s why I’m so comfortable talking about it. They know. They took all the cable boxes out of all my houses that they hit, they took all the video encoders. Encoders are like capture cards. I basically made a Twitch network, private, with all channels for $10-$15 per month. I had a ton of subscribers, I don’t want to talk about how many subscribers I had, it’s up to them [the FBI/IRS] to figure it out.”
OMI also revealed that during a recent flight back from the Dominican Republic, the Feds were actually on the plane with him. He said he was joking around but in one of his videos there was an agent sitting next to him “the whole time.”
But despite having “pretty much everything” taken from him in November, Carrasquillo can be seen ‘buying’ yet more new cars in his latest YouTube videos. This, he says, is a result of the revenue he’s generating from his YouTube content, which he claims is currently around $50,000 per month – with a potential for more.