Millions in Crypto & Cash Seized in Movie Piracy Investigation

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Police in New Zealand have reportedly seized $6.7m in cryptocurrency and $1.1m in cash as part of a money laundering investigation. According to a local report, a man from Hamilton allegedly received the funds from a US-based movie piracy site he helped to create. PayPal noticed unusual activity on an account linked to the suspect and reported the case to the IRS.

When New Zealand, alleged movie piracy, cash seizures, and a US-based investigation feature in the same sentence, what follows is usually information pertaining to Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.

It transpires, however, that there are other pretty big players on the radars of authorities in both countries.

Back in June, software programmer Jaron David McIvor received an unwelcome visit from police in New Zealand who were investigating a movie piracy case in the United States. It took at least two visits but Ivor ultimately ended up handing over $1.1 million in cash and the keys to his cryptocurrency accounts containing almost $6.7 million.

The case, which has just been made public by NZHerald, centers around alleged money laundering. According to Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay, the head of the Asset Recovery Unit in Waikato, McIvor helped to create a movie piracy site in the United States from which he received an estimated $2m.

It’s reported that the money was deposited into various bank accounts from wire transfers, Stripe, and PayPal. It was the latter who identified “suspicious activity” on an account linked to McIvor and subsequently reported the matter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States.

Since the funds were allegedly generated from crimes that took place in the United States, moving the funds into New Zealand was sufficient to trigger a money-laundering investigation and the seizure of the funds earlier this year.

The name of the pirate platform allegedly co-founded by McIvor has not been named. However, police have confirmed that other individuals are under investigation in the United States, Canada, and Vietnam.

The seizures that began in June in New Zealand came just a month after news broke in the United States that authorities had seized around $4 million worth of cash and cryptocurrency there as part of an investigation into alleged movie piracy.

The two cases are not currently being linked by authorities but they share some similarities. Both involve an alleged pirate movie site in the US, both received a PayPal referral for suspicious activity, and both resulted in the seizure of large volumes of cash and cryptocurrency.


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