The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Alleged California TV pirate says Dish has wrong guy

Vaneet Sharma says he has no involvement in a streaming TV service that allegedly stole channels from Dish, but attorneys for the satellite company believe otherwise.

Vaneet Sharma says he has no involvement in a streaming TV service that allegedly stole channels from Dish, but attorneys for the satellite company believe otherwise.

A satellite antenna used by Dish Network. (Photo by Ryan Finnie via Wikimedia Commons)
A satellite antenna used by Dish Network. (Photo by Ryan Finnie via Wikimedia Commons)

A San Francisco Bay Area man who was named by Dish Network as the mastermind of a pirate streaming television operation says the satellite company has named the wrong person.

In a series of emails with The Desk on Tuesday, Danville resident Vaneet Sharma denied any involvement in the service, called Sharma IPTV, and said the lawsuit filed by Dish was the latest in a string of harassment involving the satellite company and a number of unknown co-conspirators.

Last week, Dish filed a civil complaint in federal court accusing Sharma of circumventing certain security protocols to access hundreds of channels available through its Sling TV streaming service. He allegedly resold access to those live channels through Sharma IPTV, an online service that cost $15 per month or $150 per year.

Dish cited Sharma by name, and alleged an astrology business tied to his home address served as a front for the illegal streaming service. The company also said Sharma refused to stop operating the IPTV service after being warned by Dish, and threatened to frame his ex-wife for piracy if the company moved forward with a lawsuit.

In an email sent to The Desk early Tuesday morning, Sharma said he was not involved in any pirate TV operation, and said Dish and Sling were “con artists making those allegations to engage in a shake down.” Sharma said he would respond to the lawsuit by notifying the “FBI cyber crimes unit” and “pursue other legal avenues available to me.”

“I look forward to seeing this through in a court of law,” Sharma said.

Vaneet Sharma takes calls during an astrology program on Radio Zindagi. (Photo via Facebook stream)
Vaneet Sharma takes calls during an astrology program on Radio Zindagi. (Photo via Facebook stream)

When asked why he felt Dish was targeting him, Sharma said he faced ongoing harassment from someone who set up a website in his full name, one that included a number of allegations that his business ventures were a scam.

“I have had two web hosting companies take down the site,” Sharma affirmed. “Our legal team is trying to shut the site down as I write this.”

It wasn’t immediately clear who was behind the website. Registration records reviewed by The Desk lists a non-specific address that resolves to a city called Georgetown on the island of Nevis. The website’s address points to a server hosted by CloudFlare, and the incomplete registration information appears to violate the policies of Internet domain regulator ICANN, which requires complete contact information or the listing of a proxy that able to handle requests on behalf of a customer.

In his follow-up email, Sharma conceded that he had no personal knowledge that Dish was maliciously targeting him, saying the company was “being misled by the perpetrators to think I have anything to do with it.”

Sharma ended his email by suggesting he might eventually file a countersuit for damages, pointing to a recent settlement by Fox Corporation in which the company agreed to pay $787.5 million to close out a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems two years ago.

“Remember, Fox TV had to pay huge damages for promoting the lies about the Dominion voting machines,” Sharma wrote. “Anyone promoting these lies should be cautious of the consequences, as the law does eventually catch up.”

A spokesperson for Dish has not returned an after-hours email seeking comment. But the company’s lawsuit includes exhibits that point to Sharma being the sole operator of the IPTV service.

A flier that was purportedly distributed to Indian temples, restaurants and stores in the San Francisco Bay Area contains a telephone number that resolves to some of Sharma’s other ventures, and a version included in Dish’s complaint also contained a business card that contained a phone number and email address that Sharma listed in the footer of his email correspondence with The Desk.

Dish also obtained records from PayPal and other online services that appear to show a connection between Sharma and the IPTV service, including a receipt that contained one of his publicly-known email addresses.

After Dish brought the matter to Sharma’s attention, he apparently declined to shut down the IPTV service, saying the profits generated were “too good to stop.” He later told customers to conceal their purchase of Sharma IPTV subscriptions, and stopped using PayPal to process payments once Dish caught on to the ruse.

Dish is seeking an injunction barring Sharma IPTV from operating, as well as unspecified damages associated with the alleged piracy of its channels.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Get stories like these in your inbox, plus free breaking news alerts on business and policy matters involving media and tech.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
Home » News » Industries » Security » Alleged California TV pirate says Dish has wrong guy