23 September 2021

Former Premier League footballer Jimmy Bullard given harsh lesson on the risks of piracy by cyber security expert Jamie Woodruff.

In a new FACT campaign, Jimmy Bullard has been given a first-hand insight into some of the risks lurking behind illegal streams, from viruses and malware deliberately designed to infect your devices, to full-scale identity theft caused by the sharing of personal information like email addresses and credit card details.

The campaign, which features Jimmy and cyber security expert Jamie Woodruff, will come as a wake-up call to anyone tempted to illegally stream, as new research reveals that almost half of respondents (47%) in the UK say that they have shared or would be willing to share their personal email address to gain access to illicit streams.

Jimmy’s experience with Jamie shines a light on just how risky illegal streaming is, with Jamie explaining how sites are set up to scam, infect devices and deliver terrifying attacks. Jamie also demonstrates how easy it is for someone’s identity to be compromised through illegal streaming, whether the sites and apps are free or require payment.

The research, commissioned by FACT, found that the majority (64%) of respondents believe that they would be putting their personal information at risk by illegally streaming. And they’d be right to worry, with one in three (33%) admitting they have experienced fraud, been hacked or have been exposed to online scams as a result of illegal streaming. Almost a quarter (23%) of respondents have also received a request for personal information while streaming.

Jimmy is also shown the scale of extreme and explicit pop-ups which bombard users of the sites, which would come as a concern to any parents tempted by illegal streaming.

Jimmy commented: “You hear that there are lots of problems with dodgy streaming sites, but I had no idea just how serious it was. I was pretty shocked at how these sites work, and by how much trouble someone could land themselves in using them.

“As someone who’s been targeted by online hackers before, it’s frightening what can happen if your details get into the wrong hands. My main takeaway for anyone watching these streams is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Jamie added: “European football content accounts for over a quarter of all illicit streaming sites online. This means that football fans in particular are putting themselves at risk of everything from viruses and malware to stolen personal information.

“The truth is that while these sites may look harmless, the criminals behind them and the danger they pose are not. Even the simplest of illicit sites will regularly record your IP address, track your location, and even use your device to farm for crypto currency. There have even been occasions where connected devices such as webcams have been unknowingly hacked, due to users downloading fake web players that install malware on their machine.”

CEO of FACT, Kieron Sharp said: “It’s really important that people know the serious nature of the risks they’re exposing themselves to if they choose to view content illegally. Identity theft, fraud and exposure to malware and viruses as a result of piracy are all too real, as Jimmy discovered. Anyone considering turning to illegal content should think twice about whether it’s really worth it – what appears to be free could come with a very high cost.”

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Find out more about our campaign here.


While illegal streaming puts consumers at series risk of online fraud, identity theft, malware and exposure to extreme or explicit content, it also comes with the risk of prosecution.

Last week, three people were arrested and a major illegal streaming network was dismantled following an operation with West Midlands Police. The operation, which was months in the planning, shut down the network, disabled the illegal streams and delivered an on-screen message to those who received the streams warning them that their access to the content was unlawful. The suspects were arrested on suspicion of copyright infringement, fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

In July of this year, a man was jailed for 16 months for illegally supplying and watching premium content. Mr Paul Faulkner received the sentence after pleading guilty to multiple copyright and fraud offences, including accessing pirate content for his own use, for which he received a standalone 4-month sentence.

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