Officers of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), City of London Police, searched four premises in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stoke; resulting in the arrest of four people on suspicion of involvement in the illegal streaming of premium content, including Sky channels. Computer equipment, laptops and phones were also seized.
The activity formed part of a period of coordinated action between PIPCU, Police Scotland and Sky, which took place throughout February. Officers believe that the illegal streaming services disrupted by the operation had more than 500,000 customers.
In addition to the arrests, more than 200 ‘cease and desist’ notices were delivered to individuals suspected of running illegal streaming services around the country. The notices instruct those running the services to immediately cease all streaming activity.
One person was charged in relation to intellectual property theft and three people have since been released under investigation.
Coordinated effort between Sky and police from London and Scotland
“This coordinated effort by police and partners which saw action spanning the UK has made a significant impact against individuals involved in serious organised crime,” commented Matt Hibbert, Director of Anti-Piracy at Sky. “More and more effective action is being taken against the criminals behind big piracy operations and we thank PIPCU and all the police forces involved. We will continue to support these efforts to shut down these pirate networks and help protect consumers,” he said.
Detective Inspector Andy Maclean, from Police Scotland’s Cyber Investigation Department, said “Anyone tempted to purchase one of these IPTV services should be aware that their money is going towards a fraudulent scheme, and they might well find themselves having a visit from police or other authorities.
“Money from such activities are often used to fund other crime, so people need to be aware of that. This is, without doubt, a form of organised crime. Police Scotland will continue to work with partners to tackle this type of crime.”
Original press release:
Four arrested during nationwide crakcdown on the supply of illegal streaming services. Press release. March 1, 2023. Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police.
Why it matters
“Organised criminal groups often view the distribution of illegal streaming services as a low-risk, high-reward crime which can be used to fund other serious forms of criminal activity,” said Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, PIPCU. “At the same time, it can expose end users to the risks of data theft, fraud and malware.
“We hope that this period of action sends a clear message; PIPCU will continue to work with partners across law enforcement and the industry to take action against those who provide illegal streaming services and protect consumers against the risks associated with using them,” said Mr. Robinson.