Worcester Trading Standards officers aided by West Mercia Police, in partnership with FACT and BT, executed a warrant on Tuesday 14 December as part of the continuing fight against illegal streaming. Officers visited two addresses in Worcester and seized a variety of equipment relating to the provision of internet protocol television (IPTV).
At the main suspect’s property the proceeds of crime from the fraudulent activity were evident, with over 15 signed sports memorabilia found including framed football shirt, boots and boxing gloves worth over £10,000.
The illegal IPTV service provided access to premium content including TV, films and sport.
Despite being previously issued with Cease and Desist notices, the individuals continued to offend and are now subjects of an ongoing investigation.
Initiated by BT, FACT referred this investigation to the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), part of the Regional Organised Crime Unit which enabled progression by Worcester Trading Standards.
Regional GAIN Co-ordinator Jason Grove, from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “Today’s action is an excellent example of our multi-agency working to tackle fraud and organised crime. These kinds of offences cost the UK economy and in particular the film and television industry millions of pounds each year and today shows that we will take action against those involved. Anyone with information about this kind of crime can report it to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.”
Sergeant Carl Jones from West Mercia Police said: “We assisted colleagues from ROCU, Trading Standards, BT and FACT on Tuesday morning in executing two search warrants in Worcester. The searches yielded a significant amount of material relating to high value fraud and have been seized. Two men are now helping Trading Standards with their on-going investigation.
“This operation sends a strong message to organised criminality that we are homing in on those who knowingly commit or facilitate online copyright infringement.
“Not only is there an enormous loss to the entertainment industry with this particular crime but it is also unfair to millions of people work hard to afford their subscription-only TV services while others cheat the system.”
Councillor Karen May, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, commented: “This operation to help stamp out accessing TV illegitimately is yet another recent good example of our Trading Standards Officers working with partners, and other colleagues to tackle illegal activity in the County. I’m really grateful for partners working together to help crack down on those breaking the law here in Worcestershire.”
Kieron Sharp, FACT CEO added: “Providing illegal streaming services is a crime and action will be taken against those running the services. We thank the GAIN Co-ordinators, Worcester Trading Standards and BT for enabling the progression of this investigation. FACT will continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute software, add-ons, devices and streams to take action against suppliers and operators.”
Click here for further information about GAIN and the West Midlands ROCU.