Italian police have arrested the 49-old operator of a handful of file-sharing sites that were previously shut down. The man, known online under the pseudonym “Tex Willer”, allegedly made over half a million euros profit from the sites. Besides copyright infringement, tax evasion, forgery and fraud, he is also accused of selling the email addresses of 300,000 users.
Last November, Italian police (Guardia di Finanza) shut down a prominent network of five filesharing sites including ItalianShare.net.
Together the sites had more than 300,000 users and carried 31,402 links to movies, music, TV shows, software and games indexed on BitTorrent, cyberlockers and eDonkey networks.
This week the Italian fiscal police concluded their investigation into the 49-year-old operator of the sites, known online under the pseudonym “Tex Willer.” The operator was arrested and is suspected of facilitating copyright infringement and several related crimes.
In addition, five others have been charged with multiple offenses including tax fraud and counterfeiting.
According to the authorities, Willer also earned 37,000 euros by making the site’s user database available to advertisers. Emails and IP-addresses were sold without permission of the site’s members, which is a violation of privacy law.
The operator is also suspected of creating fake invoices worth 100,000 euros, and failing to pay 83,000 euros in taxes. In total, Willer made a profit of 580,000 euros since he began his activities in 2007.
The authorities claim that the value of the copyrighted works that were made available amounts to 32 million euros. For these copyright infringements Willer is facing hefty fines.
Enzo Mazza, president of Italian anti-piracy group FIMI, told TorrentFreak that this “is a very important case.”
“For the first time the Fiscal police did a very sophisticated analysis of the economics behind an infringing site using the standard procedure they are using for the money laundering investigation. We applaud the investigation of the fiscal police and the action taken by the public prosecutor from Salerno,” Mazza says.
While the sites have been shutdown, FIMI says an investigation into the advertisers who collaborated with Willer is ongoing.