The action against illegal video streaming service platforms is coordinated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome and, at international level, by the European Agencies Eurojust and Europol.
The operation aims to dismantle and obscure the delivery of streams across the internet that are derived from pirated sources, often hitting the revenues of legitimate pay-TV broadcasters.
The activity has also seen the cooperation of Police and judicial authorities from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria and Greece, engaged at the same time throughout Europe in support of Italy’s Postal Police.
The total number of people involved is significant, with around 5 million users in Italy alone and an estimated turnover of over €2 million per month.
About 22 people have been identified, but so far no arrests have been made. A total of 200 servers were taken offline, of which 93 were based in the Netherlands, the remainder in France and Germany. Also about 150 PayPal accounts, used for buying illegal subscriptions, were closed down.
In a statement, the police said: “In 2015, the OCG started illegally re-broadcasting and selling pay-per-view products and services, similar to the ones offered by Sky Italia, Mediaset Premium, Netflix, DAZN, and Infinity in various Member States and third countries. The well-skilled criminals used the most sophisticated and efficient software for the fraud.
“Several retransmission stations were set up with special servers to disable the encryption of the original programmes and generate the illegal IPTV signal in violation of intellectual property law. The gang members offered to a wide audience of unknowing clients actual pay-tv programmes, cinematographic works and on-demand content at a very low price. The illegally obtained assets were subsequently transferred to foreign bank accounts.”