Police across Europe crack down on pay TV fraud

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

Italian finance police have shut down ‘Xtream Codes’, a platform with around 700,000 users at the time it was closed, as part of a European-wide operation targeting illegal TV and video streaming services. The provider had about 50 million users worldwide according to the Italian police.

Its service bundled together content from Sky Italia, Netflix, Italian broadcaster Mediaset and sports live-stream service Dazn for just €12 a month. The retransmission stations were set up with special servers to disable the encryption of the original programmes and generate IPTV signal in violation of intellectual property law.

The operation was coordinated EU agencies Europol and Eurojust, with raids taking place in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Greece.

A complex investigation into an organised crime group was conducted by the Public Prosecutor Officer of Naples, supported by the Nucleo Speciale Tutela Privacy e Frodi Technologiche della Guardia di Finanza di Roma.

A case was subsequently opened at Eurojust to advance the Italian investigation due to its transborder dimension. During the investigation, a link was also discovered with another investigation conducted by the Public Prosecutor Officer of Rome which was supported by the Italian state police.

More than 200 servers were taken offline in Germany, France and the Netherlands, and over 150 PayPal accounts of those involved were blocked.

The financial damage caused is estimated to cost €6.5 million. In a statement Eurojust said that the massive fraud was “jeopardising the existence of many legal providers of pay-TV”.