Pirate IPTV: Brit Arrested in Benidorm After Social Media Ads Raised Suspicion

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A 62-year-old man from the UK has been arrested in Spain on suspicion of receiving over 5,500 payments for pirate IPTV subscriptions totaling £185,000. Police launched an investigation after a broadcaster filed a complaint against social media accounts offering illicit packages containing exclusive sports content.

policia-nacionalAccording to data published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, UK residents made 15.6 million visits to Spain in 2022, with holidays the most popular reason.

Whether Brits are on a two-week vacation or embedded within the ex-pat community, there’s a tendency to appreciate things less available at home, sunshine in particular.

For many, however, a longing for British things has created opportunities for those prepared to meet the demand. By offering BBC and ITV channels, for example, pirate IPTV services have become very popular indeed but since the packages offer much more, they’re almost a must for bars and restaurants in tourist areas.

Social Media Sales Attract Attention

According to information released by Spain’s National Police on Monday, a broadcaster’s representative filed a complaint after spotting a profile on social media platforms offering pirate IPTV subscriptions. Those packages granted access to sporting events to which the broadcaster holds the rights.

Officers assigned to the Technological Crimes Group of the Provincial Judicial Police Brigade of Alicante launched an investigation to identify the person behind those accounts.

Investigation: Key Findings

Benidorm is a seaside resort on Spain’s east coast. It’s a popular destination for tourists from the UK, including those who enjoy watching live football at local bars, often courtesy of IPTV packages.

Police investigators say they located several ads offering the subscriptions for sale. In one of the ads it was claimed that the person offering them had been “supplying IPTV to bars and restaurants in Benidorm for ten years, with support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Police say the subscriptions were on sale for as little as £7 up to a maximum of £50, presumably based on subscription length and the content on offer. At least one package provided access to 594 channels, including those belonging to the broadcaster behind the original complaint.

Other findings led investigators to conclude that the person offering the subscriptions was from the UK and his target audience likely consisted of English speakers in Spain.

“During the investigation, police officers verified that the payments made were destined for a bank account in the United Kingdom and, in addition to sporting events, offered access to English, Scottish and Irish channels. For this reason, the audience to which the television offer was directed was of British or English-speaking origin,” police reveal.

“After various police efforts, the agents verified that the person who seemed to be behind the scheme was a British citizen who was linked to various bank accounts and who had his own Internet server to offer the services. The man had a home address in Benidorm and made continuous trips from the United Kingdom to the Alicante town.”

Policía Nacional Arrest Brit in Benidorm

After obtaining permission from a local court, police raided the man’s home in Benidorm. During the search, officers found two IPTV devices, a mobile phone, and a laptop. It’s alleged that an application open on the laptop allowed the man to control the IPTV services he offered on social media and at the time of the police intervention, he was offering several dozen, including some in Spain.

An inspection of the suspect’s mobile phone revealed various apps for accessing “banking entities” in the UK. Officers were only able to access one of those apps but found that the suspect had made transactions worth over £9,500. Many additional transactions were found by other means.

“[A]fter the officers of the Technological Crimes Group analyzed a payment platform through which the detainee charged for subscriptions, they verified that the person involved had allegedly received nearly 5,500 payments for the subscriptions, the majority in pounds sterling and about 200 payments in euros. The amount exceeded 185,000 pounds sterling and about 6,500 euros,” police note.

“Market and Consumer” Offenses

Police say a 62-year-old British man stands accused of intellectual property offenses, specifically those related to the market and consumers. That terminology suggests an eye on events back in 2019 that didn’t go exactly to plan.

Following complaints by top-tier football league, LaLiga, more than 50 people in the Alicante area appeared in court for showing LaLiga matches in bars and restaurants either via illegal IPTV packages, or official subscriptions designed for residential use.

After some of those individuals were found guilty, a criminal court in Alicante found that showing the matches in public wasn’t an intellectual property crime. That led to acquittals and the reversal of earlier guilty verdicts on the basis that “football does not have the character of a literary, scientific or artistic work” so copyright did not apply.

Cases against several bars in Valencia also failed to convince the court of intellectual property crimes. Instead, the court found that a minor crime related to the market and consumers had been committed.


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