In a country where more than 770 burglaries go unsolved every day, it’s no surprise that some people consider free Sky streams the least of the UK’s worries.
If the topic was switched to fraud, opinions would likely be quite different, and herein lies the problem. In 2022, piracy might form the basis of an investigation, but more often than not, fraud, money laundering, and other serious charges are the outcome.
Sky Backed By Organized Crime Unit
Not everyone can afford Sky TV, so it’s no surprise that pirate set-top boxes are so popular. It’s a trend Sky is determined to reverse in partnership with the police.
The company doesn’t seem ready to tackle the public just yet, but it’s a completely different story for those involved in the pirate IPTV market.
A statement issued today reveals that a “large-scale” TV piracy operation is under police investigation in the north of England. The private/public initiative involves Sky, South Yorkshire Police, and the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YH ROCU).
During Tuesday morning this week, YH ROCU and South Yorkshire officers partnered with Sky to execute an unknown number of warrants in Doncaster and Barnsley. Police arrested a 43-year-old man who appears to have been involved in the supply of illegal TV streams, almost certainly including those owned by Sky.
“Providing the means to watch premium television content without a subscription is illegal. By taking action in this way we hope to make a significant impact on this kind of criminal activity,” says Ramona Senior, Head of the YH ROCU Regional Economic Crime Unit.
Much More Than Piracy
The suspect’s role in the illegal streaming operation hasn’t been revealed but police have plenty of potential charges lined up.
Alleged offenses under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Act lay the groundwork before a significant escalation into conspiracy to defraud. Specifics are yet to be released, but similar cases have featured offenses related to the possession or supply of articles for use in fraud – a pirate box or subscription, for example.
Since streams tend to be sold as part of a subscription package, any revenue is illegal according to the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2002. Police say the man arrested Tuesday is suspected of money laundering, which includes possession or handling of criminal property, or facilitation of the same.
Police also mention an offense under the ‘Serious Offences Act’ but probably meant to write Serious Crime Act instead. Charges under this legislation have succeeded against sellers of pirate TV boxes (1,2) and have also appeared in IPTV provider cases.
Police describe the arrest as “an excellent example of our officers working with private partners to enforce the law,” adding that the suspect is now free pending further inquiries.
How the case will progress is unknown, but the arrest itself doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Rumors that the police were planning something like this have been circulating since the start of the World Cup, but where and against whom remained a mystery.