UK Police have arrested three people suspected of being behind the distribution and transmission of thousands of illegally modified TV set-top boxes to people worldwide.
In a series of dawn raids the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit police executed warrants at a business and three residential addresses in Chorley, Lancashire. Three men aged 36, 40 and 58 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences and are in custody.
The operation was supported by Lancashire Constabulary and a forensic investigator from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).
So far officers have recovered approximately over 30 servers and set-top boxes which are believed to have been modified with illegal software.
The PIPCU investigation established that illegally modified devices were widely available to buy on the internet. It emerged the devices were being marketed as genuine and legitimate for use anywhere in the world, for an annual fee of around £400.
The head of PIPCU, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe said: “Our action today will disrupt what we understand to be a significant and highly resourced operation to distribute pirated television on an industrial scale to tens of thousands of people across the globe. Operations like this remain an integral part of protecting livelihoods supported by the entertainment industry and the law abiding public who pay for their channels with their hard earned cash.”
Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, Kieron Sharp, said his organization will continue to pursue those engaged in this growing area of piracy.
“Illegally modified set-top boxes, along with infringing apps and add-ons, have created new opportunities for criminality and piracy. Tackling these threats and the people behind them is one of our highest priorities and therefore today’s multi-agency action is another great result for law enforcement and the creative industries,” Sharp said.
The PIPCU led enquiry is being supported by licensing experts and broadcasters across the globe.