Two Arizona men, Joseph Hwang and Jefferson Rice, were arrested today (March 3) on charges of theft and piracy stemming from a suspected online piracy scam.

Two Arizona men, Joseph Hwang and Jefferson Rice, were arrested today (March 3) on charges of theft and piracy stemming from a suspected online piracy scam.

An investigation that began in December identified Hwang as the user of approximately 400 separate auction-seller names under which illegal copies of films were distributed online. Rice is alleged to be Hwang's associate in these crimes.

Both men were charged in Maricopa County, near Phoenix. The Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, under the direction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, made the arrests. In a statement, Arpaio says: "People shouldn't mess with the movie industry -- not in my town. I take piracy very seriously and encourage my computer-crimes detectives to be vigilant in uncovering this kind of criminal activity."

Tom Temple, director of worldwide Internet enforcement for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), says in a statement: "Today's arrest in Arizona underscores the importance of local law enforcement to help stop the growing sales of pirate product online. Consumers who enjoy the convenience of shopping online also need to realize that buying pirated product supports criminal activity and contributes to an enormous web of Internet piracy."

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