Trading Standards Scotland, Police Scotland and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have joined forces to target a major illegal distributor of premium TV content.
The distributor, based in the West of Scotland, is believed to have provided illegal access to premium TV, sports and movie content to dozens of separate illegal streaming services, who in turn provided access to tens thousands of subscribers right across the UK.
Two properties were searched and multiple devices suspected to be used for the illegal streaming of TV content were seized. PIPCU also took coordinated action to disable a significant number of servers, causing major disruption to the distributor’s network.
As a result, it is thought that dozens of services which were using content provided by this illegal operation have now been disrupted or permanently closed, affecting thousands of subscribers.
The action builds upon a series of raids, arrests and convictions relating to the supply of illegal access to premium TV content around the UK.
Further enquiries will be made by Trading Standards Scotland in order to ascertain the full extent of the network and number of individuals involved.
“Tackling illicit trade in Scotland is one of the key aims of Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy,” stated Fiona Richardson, Chief Officer of Trading Standard Scotland. “Illicit trade can have a serious impact on our communities and offers an opportunity for organised crime groups to profit at the expense of legitimate business.”
“The use of illicit streaming devices and services can also have a number of serious consequences for consumers. As a result of Trading Standards and Police activity, illegal streams can be removed without notice and customers will not receive a refund when they lose the service.
“These devices are also one of the main sources of malicious software and can allow criminals to access personal data and account details held on consumers’ computers and devices.”
“This operation is an excellent example of how closely the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) works with our partners in law enforcement, government and the regulatory sector to tackle criminals conducting intellectual property crime,” declared Ceri Hunt, Detective Sergeant, PIPCU.
“This was a highly organised group which purposely set out to defraud the television, film and sport industry. We took down a significant number of servers, all providing illegal digital content, which demonstrates the scale of this illegal streaming business and the financial impact it was having on the television industry. Together with our partners, we’re determined to crack down on these fraudsters and bring them to justice.”