Italy: Major illegal streaming police operation
November 11, 2022
By Colin Mann
Italy’s Polizia postale (Postal police) in the city of Catania have conducted an operation against audiovisual piracy, with the execution of numerous searches and seizures in 23 provinces.
Seventy people are currently under investigation for criminal association of a transnational nature aimed at the dissemination of conditional access television modules. They also face other charges such as money laundering, fraudulent transfer of assets, substitution of person, possession and manufacture of false identification documents, improper use and falsification of non-cash payment instruments.
The investigations, developed by the constant monitoring of the network aimed at combating cybercrime, uncovered the existence of a criminal association organised in a hierarchical manner according to distinct and specific roles (head, deputy head, master, admin, technician, reseller), whose products were distributed throughout the nation (Catania, Rome, Naples, Salerno and Trapani) and abroad in England, Germany and Tunisia. The organisation specialised in the distribution to a large number of users, nationally and internationally, of live schedules and on-demand content protected by television rights, owned by the most well-known television platforms, through the illegal IPTV system.
The profits ascertained only in the months of investigation are some €10 million, but the damages for the audiovisual industry could amount to over €30 million per month considering that the operation uncovered 70 per cent of illegal national streaming, equating to over 900,000 users.
The first investigations highlighted the presence on Telegram, in various social networks, in various sites of bots, channels, groups, accounts, forums, blogs and profiles that advertise the sale on the national territory, of accesses for illegal streaming of content to payment via IPTV of the most popular platforms.
The small group of ringleaders was responsible for promoting and directing the venture, deciding the costs of subscriptions, suspensions of the service and the methods of distributing the devices and coordinating individual operators throughout the country.
Furthermore, in order to evade the investigations, the suspects made use of encrypted messaging applications, fictitious identities and false documents; the latter were also used for the registration of telephone users, credit cards, television subscriptions and server rentals.
The illegal flow of illegal devices to users was stemmed and during the searches, numerous computer material and illegal devices for connections and broadcasting activities were seized.
At this stage, the investigation only involves those at the top of the organisation as well as the resellers of the TV packages, after which the users of the illegal services will be identified.