Three men arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud for operating illegal website

Detectives investigating a website from which thousands of people were able to download blockbuster films and top-rated TV shows for free have arrested three men this morning, Tuesday 17 February.

At approximately 06.45hrs, detectives arrested a [A] 26-year-old man, [B] 25-year old man and [C] 24-year-old man – all from Southwark – on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud; copyright theft and encouraging or assisting offences believing one or more will be committed, during a pre-planned operation.

The arrests were made by the London Regional Asset Recovery Team (LRART), who have been assisted in their investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

They executed a search warrant at a residential address on Enid Street, Southwark from which they recovered digital equipment and financial documents. That search is ongoing.
The three men have been taken into custody at a south London police station where they remain.

The website was originally registered to one of the suspects in the UK but was then re-registered to the second suspect at an address in Romania. It is believed that money made from advertising on the website continued to be paid into a London-based bank account.

Investigating officer, DS Neil Reynolds, of LRART, said: “The site was extremely popular. It was viewed about 70,000 times a day and, internationally, it ranked thousands of places higher than a well-known and legitimate film download site.

“It can be difficult for people to care about copyright laws being broken but the money made from such sites is often spent on funding other crime. We are looking at how much money was made from advertising on this website and where that money went to.”

Kieron Sharp, Director General, FACT, said: “Websites which set out to direct users to illegal copies of films and TV shows are engaged in criminal activity which not only reaps huge financial benefits for the individuals involved but also undermines the fundamental business model which allows for future investment in the creative industries.

“As these latest arrests show, this type of criminal enterprise will not go without action, and those involved face severe penalties.”

NOTES TO EDITORS:

LRART is a Home Office-funded multi-agency team comprised of officers and financial investigators from the MPS, City of London Police, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. It undertakes financial investigations aimed at seizing criminal assets from individuals and disrupting organised crime groups involved in pan-London criminal activity.

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