Joint police and Trading Standards operation targets UK-wide illegal streaming service

A joint police and Trading Standards operation has disrupted a major illegal streaming service in the West of Scotland believed to be supplying tens of thousands of subscribers across the UK.

Oct 2, 2020
By Paul Jacques

Officers said it was “a highly organised group” and a major illegal distributor of premium television content.

The distributor is believed to have provided illegal access to premium television, sports and movie content to dozens of separate illegal streaming services, which in turn provided access to “tens thousands of subscribers right across the UK”.

Trading Standards Scotland, Police Scotland and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) joined forces to target the group.

Two properties were searched and multiple devices suspected to be used for the illegal streaming of television content were seized. The PIPCU also took coordinated action to disable a significant number of servers, causing major disruption to the distributor’s network.

It is thought dozens of services that 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 television content around the UK.

The PIPCU said the operation was “an excellent example” of how closely it works with its partners in law enforcement, government and the regulatory sector to tackle criminals conducting intellectual property crime.

“This was a highly organised group which purposely set out to defraud the television, film and sport industry,” said Detective Sergeant Ceri Hunt. “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.”

Trading Standards Scotland said it will make further inquiries to determine the full extent of the network and number of individuals involved.

Chief Officer Fiona Richardson said: “Tackling illicit trade in Scotland is one of the key aims of Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy. 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.”

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