If the charges against Alston Buchanan are true, he's helped keep a lot of Philadelphia residents on the couch.
Buchanan, a former Comcast employee, and the others are believed to have sold service upgrades to more than 5,000 Comcast customers at an off-the-books discount. The customers got their premium channels while Buchanan and his associates -- the scheme may have involved as many as 23 people, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney's office -- allegedly walked away with the cash.
Risa Vetri Ferman, the Montgomery County DA, said that Buchanan was "extremely clever" and "able to circumvent sophisticated technical systems" to provide the illegal cable hookups, according to CBS News. Buchanan, who has been described as the ringleader of the group, worked as a dispatcher at Comcast and Advanced Communications, Inc., a Comcast subcontractor, between 2007 and 2010.
The scammers would approach people "in the beauty salon, at the bar, at a local restaurant," and offer to cut them a deal on cable, Ferman told reporters.
All in all, Buchanan and his associates allegedly provided hookups to 5,795 people. Their success is perhaps unsurprising when you consider how many Comcast subscribers have dropped the service in recent months, perhaps due to the abundance of cheaper Internet video streaming services, like Hulu and Netflix.
Successful or not, the scheme unraveled when one member of Buchanan's group approached a woman at a hair salon who happened to be a Comcast employee, according to reports.
In the video above, from CBS News, Buchanan doesn't look especially consumed by guilt.
He tells reporters, "I guess you could say it's a modern-day, like, kind of Robin Hood-type thing" and goes on to explain, "Wouldn't you be grateful if you were paying $178 a month, and next thing you're paying 70? Like oh, this is great."
They Go Coupon Crazy
Robin Ramirez, Amiko Fountain and Marilyn Johnson were charged with running a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/robin-ramirez-amiko-fountain-marilyn-johnson-40-million-counterfeit-coupons_n_1690095.html" target="_hplink">$40 million counterfeit coupon ring</a>.
They File Bogus Tax Refunds
Krystle Marie Reyes was arrested for a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/11/krystle-marie-reyes_n_1586502.html" target="_hplink">$2.1 million tax refund scam</a>.
They Cut And Paste
Barbara Aqueveque was accused of a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/barbara-aqueveque-label-switching-scheme-target-walmart_n_1699268.html" target="_hplink">UPC-swapping scam</a> that netted her $30,000 a month.
They Buy Houses Using Other Peoples' Credit
Suniti Shah and Supriti Soni, California sisters, plead guilty to a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/suniti-shah-supriti-soni-real-estate-fraud_n_1728581.html?utm_hp_ref=money" target="_hplink">$16 million real estate fraud scheme</a>.
They Run Nigerian Dating Scams
A mother and daughter were accused of scamming <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/tracy-and-karen-vasseur-online-dating-scam_n_1616980.html" target="_hplink">$1 million from online daters</a>.
They Cheat Their Employers
Patricia Smith was sentenced to 78 months in jail after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/patricia-smith-embezzlement-acura_n_1615439.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/patricia-smith-embezzlement-acura_n_1615439.html" target="_hplink">embezzling more than $10 million</a> from the car dealership where she worked.
They Steal From Friends
A South Carolina woman's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/19/south-carolina-stolen-lottery-ticket_n_1686630.html?utm_hp_ref=money" target="_hplink">$500 winning lottery ticket was allegedly stolen by a friend</a> after she shared her good news.
They Put Their Friendship Up For Sale
An eBay user <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/18/adam-sank-facebook-friend-ebay_n_1681348.html" target="_hplink">put a price on friendship</a> by putting a Facebook friendship with Sank, a New York-based comedian, up for sale on the auction site.
They Steal To Get Their Dream Job
Rachael Claire Martin stole nearly $72,000 from the Barclays bank where she worked to allegedly <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/rachael-claire-martin-barclays-money-plastic-surgery_n_1680112.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money" target="_hplink">pay for various plastic surgery procedures in order to increase her chances of becoming a model</a>.
They Steal From Their Spouses
Sean Mewherter, husband of lottery winner, is accused of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/sean-mewherter-husband-of_n_1666676.html?utm_hp_ref=money" target="_hplink">stealing his wife's $1 million ticket</a>.
They Swallow Inedible Objects
Angela Hardman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/angela-hardman-swallows-diamond-engagement-ring-pawns_n_1662911.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money" target="_hplink">swallowed a $4,000 engagement ring</a> at a department store before passing it through her body and then pawning it.
They Sell Their Souls On eBay
Lori N. tried to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/lori-n-soul-for-sale_n_1654469.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money" target="_hplink">sell her soul on eBay</a>, with a starting bid of $2,000.
They Rent Out Other People's Property
Eric Sisson, a homeless man, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/eric-sisson-homeless-rent-vacant-home_n_1646436.html?utm_hp_ref=money&ir=Money" target="_hplink">rented out a vacant foreclosed home he didn't own</a> via Craigslist, allegedly earning $1,375.
They Cash Dead Peoples' Checks
Kline Fisher Budd was charged with theft of government property after authorities discovered he had been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/02/kline-fisher-budd-dead-mother-social-security_n_1643924.html?utm_hp_ref=money" target="_hplink">cashing his dead mother's Social Security checks for 26 years</a>.
They Steal From Thieves
Lisa Jarvis, a TD Bank teller, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/lisa-jarvis-td-bank-teller_n_1631105.html" target="_hplink">allegedly stole $100,000 from a customer's bank account</a>. The customer, Kenneth Costello, was then charged with filing four bogus tax returns.