Police officers from a Cyber and Serious Organised Crime Unit in the UK arrested a 24-year-old man yesterday under suspicion of operating a pirate IPTV service. Users of at least one service are now being presented with an anti-piracy warning delivered by Norfolk and Suffolk Police. The force in question informs TF that the warning is genuine and not part of a hack.
Instead of accessing the live TV package they’d originally subscribed to, they’re now being treated to a warning that claims to originate from two police forces in the UK.
“This illegal stream has been seized By Norfolk and Sussex Police,” it begins.
“Watching illegal broadcasts is a crime. Your IP address has been recorded. You are instructed to cease and desist immediately from all illegal media streaming.”
As news of the message spread around various IPTV discussion forums, the speculation began. Some put forward the theory that the operator of the service had orchestrated some kind of cut-and-run scam, faking the seizure notice and then fleeing with subscribers’ money. Others stated that it was some kind of hack designed to scare users of the service.
To find out the truth, TorrentFreak contacted Suffolk Police with a copy of the message. They confirmed that the notice is part of a criminal investigation and should be taken seriously.
Message is Genuine, One Man Arrested
“Officers are aware that speculation is circulating online stating that the on screen message is a ‘hack’. However, recipients should be clear that this is a genuine police operation,” the force informs TF.
Police are not yet naming Global as a target and it’s certainly possible that additional providers are also affected by the action. However, they did confirm that officers from the local Cyber and Serious Organised Crime team carried out a warrant at a property in the Hollesley area of East Suffolk yesterday, in connection with premium pay-TV channels that were “being facilitated to tens of thousands of people.”
According to the police, a 24-year-old man was arrested under section 44 of the Serious Crime Act and Section 11 of the Fraud Act under suspicion of obtaining services dishonestly and concealing/converting criminal property, i.e money laundering. He was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Center for questioning and was released under investigation pending further inquiries.
First Time a Seizure Notice Has Appeared Via an IPTV Service
In respect of the anti-piracy message now being displayed on former customers’ screens, police say this was made possible after gaining access to the IPTV provider and disabling the suspected illegal streams.
While seizure and similar anti-piracy warnings have appeared on dozens of pirate websites over the years, this is the first instance that we’re aware of that has managed to deliver the same type of message via an IPTV provider, direct to people’s television sets. It’s an intriguing development that may yet resonate with the public.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.