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A group suspected of facilitating a large-scale illegal internet protocol TV network has been dismantled following cross-border criminal investigations.
On Thursday, January 11, four people were arrested and 17 houses searched across Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Greece. A number of items were seized including decoders, computers, accounting documents, servers, and satellite receivers.
The network was allegedly hosting an illegal streaming business distributing paid-for TV subscriber channels. The group allegedly used multiple servers to facilitate illegal signal dissemination through subscription channels and offered the services to customers, via illegal monthly subscriptions, throughout Europe.
One person has been arrested in Bulgaria and three in Cyprus. All are accused of facilitating an international operation illegally broadcasting over 1,000 channels of pirated content, to approximately 500,000 customers.
The content offered by the network included material from Sky, Nova, and Bein Sports, and was allegedly distributed to consumers for as little as €20 ($24.47) per month.
The servers which distributed the channels were shut down and the IP addresses, which were hosted by a Dutch company, deactivated.
IPTV describes the process of streaming content through the internet and is used by legitimate companies, such as Netflix, as well as by illicit organisations.
The investigations, launched over a year ago, were led by the Cypriot Police’s IP crime unit, with support provided by the Greek Police’s cybercrime division, the Dutch Fiscal Investigative and Intelligence Service, and the Bulgarian Police’s cybercrime unit.
Europol’s IP Crime Coordinated Coalition and members of the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance also provided assistance.
In November 2017 Europol announced that it had seized more than 20,000 domain names facilitating the sale of counterfeit goods, as part of a joint operation with the US, TBO reported.
Meanwhile criminal charges have recently been brought in a case relating to the streaming of copyrighted programmes on entertainment boxes, TBO reported, while a man in England has been hit with an £85,000 demand after his iPad was used to stream a Sky pay-for-view boxing match to 4,000 people via Facebook, according to TBO.