UK: PIPCU, FACT and Premier League team up to tackle modified Fire Sticks, arrest made

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As part of a crackdown on the supply of illegal streaming services, with a focus on individuals selling modified Amazon Fire Stick devices, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police interviewed individuals across the country over the course of a ‘week of action.’

The operation was the latest in a crackdown on the sale and distribution of illegally modified fire sticks, including the sentencing of one such seller to two and half years imprisonment in October 2023. The sentencing followed a nationwide operation supported by PIPCU and FACT which disrupted more than 1,000 customers of the service.

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“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 Detective Chief Inspector Emma Warbey, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police

Eleven were targeted

In collaboration with FACT and the Premier League, the operation targeted 11 individuals across the UK selling illegal access to premium TV content, including live Premier League matches via modified or ‘fully loaded’ smart TV devices or sticks.

One of those persons was arrested and the 10 others were interviewed under caution.  All 11 people spoken to by officers were given a conditional caution, stating they were to cease their activity and take down their advertising and social media channels.

A conditional caution gives a person a record on the police system and if they do not abide by the conditions of the caution, they will go to court and face further prosecution.

Officers travelled to various locations including Portsmouth, Wales, Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Leeds, Manchester and Bury to carry out interviews.

Further reading

Eleven interviewed during wek of action to tackle the supply of illegal streaming services.  Press release. March 5, 2024. Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). City of London Police

Why it matters

“Illegal streaming is a huge issue for the industry and while it may seem like a low-risk, high-reward crime, the proceeds are used to fund other serious forms of criminal activity,” said DCI Warby. “At the same time, it can expose end users to the risks of data theft, fraud and malware.

“FACT remains vigilant in monitoring platforms, including modified fire sticks that promote and distribute illegal streams, taking decisive action against those selling illegal access to premium TV content,” said FACT CEO Kieron Sharp. “FACT and its partners are determined to disrupt these criminal operations and non-compliance will lead to further law enforcement action.”

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