Trading standards officers in the inner-London Borough of Westminster have led a successful operation that seized a cache of potentially dangerous illegal TV streaming devices.
The joint operation between Westminster Trading Standards, National Crime Agency, the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) and with intellectual property protection organisation FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), seized more than 40 illegal streaming devices during the raid.
The TV streaming devices were being sold online using multiple accounts on a popular retail website. The device pages advertised their ability to watch copyrighted material for free. These streaming devices resemble other commercially available media players, but use illegal software to help users easily stream pay-for-view content such as TV show, channels, sports, and the latest films.
This investigation not only found that these devices provide illegal content, but also lack UK electrical safety measures making them potentially dangerous for users.
A 53-year-old man operating out of the W2 postcode was taken to Charing Cross Police Station and Trading Standards are investigating criminal charges under the Fraud Act and the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
“Stopping this individual may prevent the distribution of hundreds of these potentially dangerous devices across Westminster and the rest of the country,” noted Councillor Antonia Cox, Westminster Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing. “This Westminster Trading Standards led operation would not have been possible without the cooperation of FACT and GAIN, and we will continue to work together to stamp out online piracy in the City. These illegal media players may look harmless but they operate outside all the regular safety checks, and could pose a risk of electrocution or fire. By buying these gadgets you may be cheating actors and creatives out of their earnings, and even worse you could cause an electrical fire in your own home.”
“This arrest is another step forward in disrupting the sale of illegal streaming devices,” declared Kieron Sharp CEO of FACT. “You may think there is nothing wrong with having one of these devices and streaming premium pay-for channels for free, such as live sports, however this is illegal and you are breaking the law. Don’t be fooled by devices that offer you the latest Hollywood films and premium pay-for-view sports for no charge – if you want to watch this kind of content we strongly advise you go directly to the official provider to ensure you don’t fall foul of the law.”
A GAIN spokesperson said: “Working in partnership, sharing intelligence lawfully and efficiently, the GAIN aims to ensure that government agencies along with Law Enforcement will help reduce serious and organised crime, in the most cost effective way. This action is an excellent example of adopting a multi-agency approach.”