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Police claim to have dismantled a multi-million dollar piracy network that served illegal free streaming sites to greater than half 1,000,000 European users.
4 people were arrested following a two-year operation conducted jointly by Spanish police and Europol, which was initiated by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).
Those arrested are accused of operating various web sites to advertise subscription packages offering streams of hundreds of live TV channels and roughly 23,000 movies and series.
Resellers within the operation were allegedly situated within the UK, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain.
“The profits obtained, which amounted to around three million euros per 12 months, were laundered by the organisation by acquiring movable and immovable property within the province of Malaga and diverting funds through Spanish firms to bank accounts situated in tax havens,” Spanish police said in a statement.
“In the course of the searches, the agents disconnected 10 administration panels – connected to 32 servers situated in France, the Netherlands and Spain – where the illegal television content was hosted, and seized computer equipment, 2,800 euros in money and two high-end vehicles valued at 180,000 euros.”
The illegal live streams of TV channels were rebroadcast to password-protected accounts of paying subscribers, in an illegal streaming operation that police claim had been running since 2012.
The newest crackdown initiated by mental property coalition ACE follows the same dismantling of a piracy network in Latin America, which ran 42 free streaming sites.
A separate operation by Polizia Postale in Italy earlier this month identified 70 suspects who face multiple allegations regarding the availability and distribution of illegal streaming services.
Despite the most recent police interventions, online piracy stays rampant, with free streams and torrents of movies and TV series easily available online.
Engines like google like Google and DuckDuckGo host results that direct people to sites where illegal streaming is accessible, while forums on web sites like Reddit also offer users way of accessing free pirated content.
Police motion stays primarily focussed on those hosting the content quite than those consuming it, nevertheless cyber security experts have warned that anyone viewing such streams face other risks from hackers.