Live TV, sports, and movie fans in Greece enjoy their entertainment as much as their fellow Europeans. They also complain about similar issues, including the high cost of official subscription TV packages offered by local broadcasters.
For many consumers, the solution to these persistent problems can be found in cheap but illicit pirate IPTV subscriptions. Greece does what it can to block illegal streaming services, so that TV companies including Nova and Cosmote are able to conduct business and make a return on their investment.
Sometimes, however, the only solution is to focus on human targets in the hope that services don’t make an immediate comeback.
€100 in Losses For TV Companies
Following an investigation by the Patras Security Sub-Directorate, the Hellenic Police say they have dismantled an organization behind a major illegal IPTV operation. The service, which is yet to be named by the authorities, is alleged to have caused upwards of €100m in losses to TV companies, including Cosmote, Nova, and Vodafone. Details of how those losses were calculated are yet to be reported.
In a series of coordinated raids late last week, police officers arrested ten men, nine locals and one described as foreign; possibly Ukranian, according to unconfirmed reports. Police say that among those arrested were the boss of the group, his second in command, an individual alleged to control the money, plus an unspecified number of subscription sellers.
Police say that a criminal case was launched against the defendants on various grounds. They include founding and participating in a criminal organization, crimes against intellectual property, and money laundering offenses.
Eight years and €25m Profit For Pirates
According to police, a preliminary investigation established that the organization had been in the business for eight years. Currently serving around 13,000 local subscribers, the group reportedly generated over €25m in profit, although no supporting calculations were made available.
“In terms of the criminal organization’s modus operandi, the members operated an illegal online platform (portal), in which, depending on their leadership position and role, they acted as managers or dealers of the provided services and relay devices,” a police statement reads.
“To collect the profits, the defendants chose manual collection, collection through digital banks based abroad, as well as through payments into their own and their family members’ bank accounts. In addition, in order to have full awareness and control of their clientele, the leading members of the criminal organization for each portal used a special subscriber management program (panel), which they installed on a computer or mobile phone.”
The packages sold to customers reportedly included access to a VOD (video-on-demand) library containing films and TV series, none of which were distributed with permission from rightsholders.
Follow The Money
Police say that the group “legalized their criminal income” through real estate purchases, the establishment of individual companies, and through unnamed betting companies.
Authorities make no mention of bank account seizures but the police didn’t leave empty-handed. Their haul included €93,500 and £6,400 in cash, “a multitude” of IPTV devices, mobile phones, various computers, and documents related to customers and sales.
Officers also seized six luxury cars and six motorcycles, promising that those arrested would face the competent prosecuting authority.