Individual raided in connection to IPTV crackdown

Operation Perfect Storm led to the seizure of devices, smart satellite cards and cash in Malta

tv streaming television streaming iptv
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Police seized IPTV equipment from an individual following searches made in three different properties belonging to the same individual last week.

A police spokesperson explained that on 10 November, the European Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation coordinated an action following a request by the Italian authorities regarding illegal use of IPTV service. Eurojust coordinated the search of twenty places.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech issued a warrant of search and seizure following a European Investigation Order as requested by the Guardia di Finanza in connection to “Operation Perfect Storm”.

Locally, the operation was coordinated by the Financial Crimes Investigation Department and the Cybercrime Unit of the Malta Police Force. The searches were carried out on two premises in Qormi and one in St Paul’s Bay belonging to the same individual.

During the raid, the police found equipment used for the diffusion of IPTV signal including around 150 devices, together with approximately 48 Smart Satellite Cards, two smartphones and around €13,000 in cash.

No arrests were made since the EIO requested search and seizure of equipment.

The police spokesperson said that the police investigations are still ongoing.

Background

Eurojust coordinated a crackdown on large-scale piracy and fraud with pay-TV and film streaming following a request by the Italian authorities.

The operation led to over 5,550 computer servers, which were used to transmit and store television broadcasts, live sports games and films without paying the legitimate copyright holders, have been taken down in Italy, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and The Netherlands.

A person thought to be the leader of the criminal activities has been arrested by the Italian authorities. With an estimated profit of €10.7 million, the Italian have also seized computer equipment, other communication tools and payment instruments as well as luxury cars. Meanwhile, customers in Italy who were making use of cheap set-top boxes have had their online streaming services blocked, Eurojust said in a statement.

Last year, Eurojust coordinated the judicial investigations and cooperation against organised crime groups who have been expanding their illegal activities into fraud and copyright piracy with pay-TV and streaming services. In September 2019, the Italian desk at Eurojust carried out a major operation which saw over 200 servers taken down to prevent the fraud from propagating.

Copyright holders, including major European pay-TV channels and American film studios, have lodged complaints with the authorities in Italy against the large scale piracy that has been depriving them of tens of millions of euros.

‘After the major operation in Italy of last year, we haven’t stopped to assist and support our national authorities. We have taken on the challenge to continue our work, as we can’t be satisfied by a single operation; our ultimate goal is to proactively enhance the coordination of investigations and to halt this criminal phenomenon. For this particular action, we are extremely grateful to our European partners’ the National Member for Italy and Vice-President of Eurojust Filippo Spezia said.

Prior to this operation, Eurojust organised three coordination meetings and a coordination centre to assist with the cooperation in all the countries involved. The operations on the ground were led by the Public Prosecutors Office (PPO) of Naples, the Guardia di Finanza, supported by a specialized unit of the Polizia di Stato (Polizia Postale et delle Telecommunicazione) in Italy, in close cooperation with the Italian desk at Eurojust. In all countries involved over 700 police officers were deployed.