Three people have been arrested and a major illegal streaming network has been dismantled following an operation with West Midlands Police. The network, which provided illegal access to premium content to more than 100 separate pirate TV services, is believed to have served hundreds of thousands of customers.
The operation, which was months in the planning, shut down the network, disabled the illegal streams and delivered an on-screen message to those who received the streams warning them that their access to the content was unlawful.
The joint operation saw officers from West Midlands Police work alongside representatives from UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT from a technical and intelligence perspective.
The streaming services in question illegally made available a large catalogue of live TV and video content from around the world, including sports, for use on smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and illicit streaming devices.
“Two men aged 53 and 35 and a 40-year-old woman were arrested on suspicion of copyright infringement, fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud,” reported Detective Sergeant Allan McDonald from the West Midland Police Economic Crime Unit. “Our joint investigation is ongoing.”
“We’re pleased to support West Midlands Police in their work to dismantle such a major network,” added Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT. “This should be a serious warning to anyone motivated by the financial gains from engaging with piracy – it is a crime which will be taken seriously by Police.”
“Users and subscribers of illegal services should be aware that not only are they committing an offence themselves, but they’re also exposing themselves to risks including identity theft, malware and viruses. Engaging with piracy in any way is simply not worth the risk,” he warned.
The action is the latest in a series designed to tackle online piracy, which not only causes significant harm to the creative industries, but also put consumers at series risk of online fraud, identity theft, malware and exposure to extreme or explicit content.
In July 2021, a man was jailed for 16 months for illegally supplying and watching premium content. Paul Faulkner received the sentence after pleading guilty to multiple copyright and fraud offences, including accessing pirate content for his own use, for which he received a standalone four-month sentence.