In 2013, Movie2K was one of the largest ‘pirate’ streaming sites on the Internet generating more traffic in Germany than Twitter. After making arrrests last year, local authorities assisted by the FBI now say they have secured cryptocurrency worth almost $30m. Overall, however, the site’s programmer is said to have made 22,000 bitcoins from his work.
Just over seven years ago, pirate streaming site Movie2K was riding on the crest of wave after establishing itself as one of the most popular platforms of its type on the Internet.
The site was particularly popular in Germany where it was the 19th most popular site overall, generating more traffic than Twitter, Amazon, Apple and PayPal. At the end of May 2013, however, the site shut down without warning, prompting theories of legal pressure.
Last November the Attorney General’s Office in Dresden revealed that two men then aged 44 and 37 had been arrested under suspicion of being the former operators of Movie2K.
They stand accused of distributing 880,000 copies of movies and TV shows between 2008 and 2013 when Movie2K was closed down. A third man, identified as a 37-year-old real estate entrepreneur, was also detained under suspicion of money laundering offenses.
According to a new announcement, two of the men have remained in custody since their arrests last year and are now cooperating with the authorities, with interesting results.
Large Amount of Crypto Seized But Huge Volumes Already Spent
From the information released thus far, it appears that Movie2K generated revenue in at least two ways – regular advertising and so-called ‘subscription traps’. The latter is when individuals sign up for a service and then find it hard or impossible to escape from a supposed contract they didn’t anticipate or were even told about.
The Dresden Prosecutor’s Office suggests that schemes were lucrative, with the authorities revealing that they have managed to seize Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash with a total value of 25 million euros (US$29.7m). The site’s programmer reportedly released the crypto haul as a step towards “damage reparation” but it appears that much more income was generated and indeed spent before the police became involved.
Authorities say that the site’s main operators started converting cash into bitcoins in 2012 and going by the figures released thus far, the numbers are eye-watering.
At Today Rates, Bitcoin Worth More Than a Quarter of a Billion Dollars
It’s claimed that the programmer alone received 22,000 bitcoins, which at today’s rates would’ve been worth close to US$257m. Obviously the numbers would’ve been less impressive seven years ago but nevertheless, the site was clearly making plenty of money from its activities.
From the fall of 2013 to mid-2016, it’s alleged that the programmer mainly spent his crypto on properties, which were acquired with the assistance of the real estate entrepreneur, who is also cooperating with the authorities. German news outlet Tarnkappe reports that the properties have also been seized.
A “clear and reliable identification” of the cryptocurrency was carried out following an investigation by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office which received assistance from forensic experts at the FBI.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.