Austrian law enforcement said it took down a large illegal IPTV operation that amassed up to 11 million euros, or about $11.6 million, over the last three years. Investigators followed up on a complaint from a TV company from 2022 that resulted in 20 arrests as well as the seizure of 1.6 million euros (almost $1.7 million), 60 bank accounts, and an Audi A7.
Since 2016, the cybercriminals have sold TV signals illegally to thousands of customers via distributors and dealers for an annual fee of 100 euros, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany. The bad actors bought the pirated TV access for about 20 or 40 euros and resold access to customers for three to four times as much.
Law enforcement said the network grew by word of mouth and each reseller had between 300 and 2,500 customers. For a short time, the main perpetrators advertised their illegal pay-TV access on Facebook.
“Due to increasing digitalization, new areas of crime have developed in the area of cybercrime. Not only private individuals but also companies can be affected by so-called mass phenomena, as this case shows very well. Thanks to the excellent cooperation at the international level, it has been possible to put a stop to a globally active group of perpetrators,” Andreas Holzer, director of the Federal Criminal Police Office, said in a statement.
Piracy is a pervasive issue that has government officials and agencies around the world locked in a seemingly unending battle. You could argue that battling pirates, as pervasive as they are, is wasted energy, especially when you consider the number of providers and users as well as the staggering amount of money piracy rakes in.
Due to the sheer number of streaming services available today, it’s no longer economically feasible for many viewers to watch everything they want to. In addition, many services have raised their prices amid climbing inflation rates. The combination of factors has resulted in consumers seeking out illegal options. The last few months alone have seen dozens of crackdowns on pirates.
Illegal IPTV services are here to stay for the foreseeable future. While it’s crucial that agencies continue to fight back against cybercriminals, it’s a bit like beheading a Hydra – for every scheme squashed, more will crop up in its place.