So what kind of  laws have been broken to keep a cracking crew running for such a long time ?

Well all sorts really : credit & calling card fraude / postal fraude /  mail order fraude and the main course..  the Copyright law...

Credit card fraude ? What the hell for ?

- Let me explain..  in the starting period of Hotline loads of Americans were importing games from us. They were downloading the games from us with a 1200 baud modem ( some awesome speed huh ? ) So when i had a new crack, i wanted to beat  the other groups by having it spread as a first release. I would call the free dial up number towards the Creditcard Company in the US for a person to person call. This way my contact would know i had some new shit, and it would cost me a dam thing. Same for my contact cause he would simply refuse the person to person call.

Later on it was also used to mail order stuff like Highspeed modems / Diskdrives etc. this was mainly done by the Americans we knew, since most of us didn't sound like a very convincing American citizens at the time.. So give as an example then ?! ..Ok what was done was something would be orderd by using a creditcard from some mail ording company. The adress that package would be shipped out to, was most of the time from somebody that was out of town or holiday. And since loads of the mail companies leave the package right   at the door when nobody answers its a easy pick up deal.

So how did we get hold of all these creditcard numers + name + adress + experiration date ? Well the weirdest places, people who worked at shops..gas stations.. supermarkets or some hackers who broke in to some big company and took the list with company creditcards, these creditcards where exchanged for free access on one of our bulletinbords to download of cause all the latest software that came out. Nothing is for free in this world, so this " free software " needed loads of other resources before it it actually gets spread out to the lowest lamer in the illegal software link. 

Calling card fraude ? Those Americans were calling you guys for free right ?!?

-The same way you could call the Creditcard companies, you could use free dialup numbers in almost every country in Europe. This was ment for the Americans who were travelling abroad in Europe as an extra service. But if you would have such a Card number you could abuse it easily. Calling your friends in the us or any bulletinborad you were a member of would be available.  Even calling back to Europe was possible , but it would kill of a card very quickly. You proberly wonde how a card would die ? You can compare a Calling card with a Credtcard its just an account that you put some money on as a reserve inc case you have to make some calls. So if the original owner only stucks   $50,- of credit on th card and your busy downloading new stuff  for 1 hour in a row, your credit will be spend. And next time you call an operator on 1 of the free dialup numers you will be notfied with a word i didnt like hearing much at the time.." your card is INVALID " !!

Maybe you have some friends who had some of these cards in the past. Well let me tell you got way out of hand.. for many years to come some well known big phone companies were going to be plagued with all kinds of scene related nerds who wanted to trade warez by using calling cards. Most of them could barely speak English, so just by trying to abuse the system they would the card this way for sure. The big downer came when a very big fish was caught, this european guy had a friend working at the biggest phone company in the usa. Since this guy was some kind of system admin he used his access to make logfiles of all the calls the operators enterd into the computer. After a while the logfile would be send by modem to his house, and deleted of the network. For many years they had intercepted 1000's of card numbers this way, and when these 2 guys finally where caught it had a huge impact on the scene. These 2 had made a fortune on there scheme.. dont be mistaken ! Almost every cracking or trading group on Atari / Amiga / Apple / PC or Consoles platform were buying cards from this european guy or some of his other re-sellers..

Postal fraud

-This part is only been done at the time in the Netherlands. I would just go to the post office and ask for Express Stickers. I would make a package, put your average 80 cents on it and stick an Express Sticker on the envelope. So Express would normally cost about 9 times as much., and this way it would even arrive quicker. Also a Stamping device with " prepayed " or " blind mail " would be handy, and could save you some money on stamps. It sounds kinda silly.. cause stamps dont cost that much, but inmagine that you have about 25 or 30 ppl that you exchange software with and say that you send 2 or 3 packages a week to all these contacts. It would be quit a bit of money that you have to cough up. Some ppl were caught for abusing Express Post and Blind mail ( they are keeping records on it..and we didnt know that part of the story.. ). Nobody got in serious trouble over it, just a warning.