Alleged Comcast Robin Hoods Might Not Be So Robin Hood-y
If Robin Hood had flown first-class to Miami, popped bottles with strippers and coated his arrows with gold paint, would the fine people of Nottingham still have celebrated him as a hero?
That appears to be the case here in Philadelphia, where people are jamming comment sections and message boards citywide to praise ringleader Alston Buchanan and 22 others, after they allegedly bilked Comcast out of $2.4 million in the last year.
Prosecutors say Buchanan and his inner circle had knowledge of the cable giant’s systems through past employment, and essentially hacked into the account of anyone who was willing to pay a $150 fee and applied promotions to cut their monthly bill significantly.
Everything seemed to be going well with the scheme, until one of the organization’s underlings was getting her (maybe his) hair done and asked the lady in the next chair if she wanted a discount on her cable bill. Except that lady was a loyal Comcast employee. Whoopsies.
Two investigations (one titled “Operation Out of Service” by the MontCo DA’s office– hey, detectives gotta have fun too) and 23 arrest warrants later, we now have a 61-page investigation that reads something like the script of terrible Ben Stiller crime spoof. To make matters worse, Buchanan even spoke to TV reporters at the courthouse Tuesday, likening himself to Robin Hood and probably providing prosecutors with even more evidence. Whoopsies.
Let’s take a look at some of the more entertaining things the investigation says the gang did with their freshly unearned dough:
• Kept $100,000 of it at home in a silver attaché case
• Deposited a few hundred thousand more into bank accounts, often in multiples of $150 (duh)
• Bought numerous high-end watches
• Bought numerous laptops and cell phones (the primary of which was affectionately named “The Batphone”)
• Bought a few cars
• Made purchases at Macy’s, Apple, Skydiving Freefall Adventures, US Airways, Harrah’s Atlantic City, Armani, Polo and, of course, in Miami Beach.
Sounds a little like the spending you’d expect from a big Comcast executive, no?
Now common sense begs the question, didn’t these guys think someone would take note of all of their new shiny things? And the answer is, yes, but a little too late, as text messages sent as the investigation closed in revealed:
Person A: “(1) Get rid of that book its paper trail. And stay the f— off the map I know its hard for u but don’t be so out in the open with all your financial moves. (2) I.e. your car or popping bottles in the vip. (3) If they look at your Facebook and see 5 cars and all of them expensive. They’re going to figure out they got their guy. I’m just saying.”
Person B: “Just changed my title to construct worker lol”
OK, we begin to see where things went wrong in this operation. And then we continue to see where things went wrong in this operation:
Person A: All those strippers know what u do
Person B: All them strippers think I’m a cop lol
Person A: Get rid of the book. U know how [many] counts of whatever they would charge somebody with if they found that
Person B: Relax. First u gotta come n my house. Then I gotta prove what it is then u gotta outrun my gun
Well, somewhere in the midst of that blend of stripper talk, poor grammar, and Foster the People lyrics, there is a shred of something that rings true: These two have now been charged with many, many counts of “whatever.” And those ledger books, of the Five Star, spiral-bound variety? Your honor, please consider exhibits A through Z.
And I won’t even get into the month-long text message chain in which they talk about how to entice a Comcast employee into giving them her employee ID, complete with sexism that would make Tucker Max wiggle his toes and call his mother.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Comcast anymore than the next guy. In fact, I can’t stand that damn company. Monopoly? Close. Ridiculous rates? No doubt. Worthy of some kind of investigation or legislation? Somebody, please, anybody.
But don’t stoop to the level of cheering these “Robin Hoods” on. We’re better than that Philly.