Six people have been arrested after a day of action designed to disrupt the sale of illegally modified set-top boxes.
The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Unit (PIPCU) co-ordinated the UK-wide operation that resulted in raids on properties in Consett, Lanchester, Washington, Gateshead, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Seamer.
The activity which involved PIPCU, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the Northeast Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU) and regional Trading Standards also led to the seizure of 42 Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) set top boxes which are suspected to be illegally modified to allow access to subscription channels.
Typically such boxes are modified to receive entire packages of channels, originally broadcast over the air, and then illegally streamed through the modified receivers.
In Sunderland, north east England, a 37 year-old man was arrested on suspicion of distributing an unauthorised decoder, money laundering and making/supplying items for use in fraud.
The head of PIPCU, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe, said: “This operation is an excellent example of multi-agency working across force boundaries to tackle piracy and those intent on making money at expense of honest subscription payers who deserve a fair deal. Set top box piracy is costing the entertainment industry millions every year and it invites possible risks from malware and viruses into homes where these devices are in use. We routinely seek to identify and
disrupt those intent on making quick cash from piracy and will use every enforcement opportunity to bring them to justice.”
Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Kieron Sharp, added: “This joint operation in the North East sends a clear message to anyone involved in the sale of illegal TV streaming boxes that FACT, along with the police and Trading Standards, are taking this crime very seriously. Consumers need to be aware that these cheap pre-configured TV boxes are illegal. They are stealing copyrighted content and starving UK businesses from revenue, as well
as putting consumers’ devices at risk of malware and ransomware.”
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce. legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.