GARDAÍ targeting providers of illegal TV streaming services, through the likes of ‘chipped’ set-top boxes, have arrested four people.
Two women, aged 37 and 40, and two men, aged 42 and 45, were arrested following searches of two properties in Crumlin and Ashbourne on Tuesday morning.
They were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 in Crumlin and Ashbourne Garda Stations and later released.
They were arrested for offences under the Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000, and the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010.
Six bank accounts and two credit union accounts containing €84,000 have been frozen.
A further nine third party payment accounts were identified, into which over €700,000 was paid in the last three years.
Illegal TV streaming sees devices such set-top boxes and sticks being illegally configured with apps and add-ons to unlawfully stream copyrighted TV, films, sports, music and games.
The devices connect to your TV to stream content through your internet connection, turning the TV into a smart TV.
Detective Superintendent George Kyne of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation said the money would have been used to fund criminal activities, while customers paying for the services may be at risk.
“This is an organised criminal enterprise where consumers are funding criminality and depriving genuine industry of legitimate revenue,” he said.
“Consumers are providing their payment details to unknown individuals and leaving themselves open to being the victims of fraud and/or data theft.
“The security around these devices and illegal streaming platforms exposes customers and leaves their home systems vulnerable.
“It is important that the public is aware of the impact of illegal streaming and its consequences.”
Gardaí from the Intellectual Property Crime Unit (IPCU) of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted the operation.
It was carried out in conjunction with police forces in England and Scotland, while Europol officers were on the ground with gardaí.
Major TV companies and the Motion Picture Association have also backed the operation.