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Five people in the UK have been arrested following an investigation into the illegal sale of TV set-top box devices.
On Wednesday, February 8, the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) released details of the multi-agency operation, which included Greater Manchester Police, the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and the UK Intellectual Property Office.
They executed six warrants in Tameside, Bolton, Bootle, Manchester and Cheadle in England, and Rhyl in Wales.
The organisations found “fully loaded” TV set-top devices at the five suspects’ homes.
The devices were pre-loaded with unlicensed add-ons and apps which would then allow users to illegally stream content to their TV, such as premium pay-for TV channels, live sport and films.
In its release, FACT said it is “believed” that the suspects have made approximately £250,000 ($312,000) across social media, online forums and their own dedicated websites.
The action was instigated by FACT on behalf of Virgin Media, the Premier League, Sky and BT Sport.
Jo Johnson, minister for IP, said: “Profiting from illegal streaming is completely unacceptable. The UK’s creative industries are a national asset that must be protected.
“Today’s efforts have shown that partnership works. I wish to congratulate FACT and the police for ending these criminal operations.”
DCI Peter Ratcliffe, head of PIPCU, said: “This operation is aimed at taking out distributors of illegal set-top boxes in the north west of England.”
He added: “This industry undermines the legitimate sale of subscription television services which employ tens of thousands of people in the UK and whose contributions are key to the creative and sporting industries.”