Firestick Crackdown: Week Of IPTV Raids Hits 11 Houses

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In a significant crackdown that underscores the ongoing battle against illegal IPTV services, the City of London Police has launched a targeted operation against illegal streaming services.

At the heart of this operation are modified Firesticks, devices that have been manipulated to provide users with unauthorized access to premium TV content, including live Premier League matches.

This nationwide sweep has led to arrests and interviews under caution, signaling a major step forward in the fight to protect intellectual property and the integrity of digital content distribution.

In cases like these, the illicit platforms either offer “jailbroken” Firesticks pre-loaded with unauthorized IPTV apps or supply instructions for installing these apps on consumers’ own streaming devices (see below on how to identify illegal Fire TV IPTV apps/services).

Fire TV Stick 4K 2nd Gen in hand

The Week of Action: A Nationwide Crackdown

The operation saw Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) officers embarking on a country-wide mission, targeting individuals involved in the sale of modified Firesticks, devices that have been tampered with to provide illegal access to premium TV content, including coveted live Premier League matches.

The operation spanned from the coastal town of Portsmouth to the urban centres of Manchester and Leeds, extending to Wales, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, and Bury.

Officers then conducted interviews and executed one arrest, underscoring the serious stance law enforcement is taking against digital piracy.

Police arresting man at the door
Illustrative Photo

In total, officers targeted 11 individuals suspected of selling access to premium TV content through modified Fire TV sticks and other Smart TV devices and sticks.

One person was arrested, marking a significant step in the legal pursuit against digital piracy, while 10 others were interviewed under caution.

A conditional caution, as issued in this case, serves as both a warning and a legal obligation. It’s a formal acknowledgement that the individual has engaged in criminal activity, but instead of immediate prosecution, they’re given specific conditions to meet.

These conditions typically include ceasing all illegal activities and, in this context, taking down any advertising or social media channels related to the illegal IPTV streaming services.

IPTV on a laptop

Failure to comply with these conditions is not taken lightly. It means that the individual will be brought before the court and face prosecution, with the potential for more severe penalties. 

Detective Chief Inspector Emma Warbey, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said:

“Illegal streaming is a huge issue for the industry and while it may seem like a low-risk, high-reward crime, the proceeds are used to fund other serious forms of criminal activity. 

“By targeting grassroots sellers, we are sending out a clear message that this will not be tolerated.”

Kieron Sharp, CEO at FACT, said: “By implementing these measures, a strong message has been conveyed: piracy is a criminal act that is treated with utmost seriousness and decisive action will be taken against suppliers of illicit services regardless of their size or scale.

“We remain vigilant in monitoring platforms, including modified Firesticks that promote and distribute illegal streams, taking decisive action against those selling illegal access to premium TV content.”

Modified Firesticks And Illegal IPTV Apps

At the heart of this operation are the modified Fire TV sticks and streaming devices, sometimes called “dodgy boxes” – a term that’s become synonymous with illegal streaming.

But what transforms a legal, widely-used streaming device into an instrument of piracy?

Amazon Fire TV Max 2nd hero

This depends on the devices. On some streaming sticks (particularly iOS devices), the process is known as “jailbreaking,” which involves altering the device’s factory settings to install unauthorized software.

This software grants users cheap access to a treasure trove of content that would typically require a legal subscription, from live sports events to the latest movies and TV series.

The Fire TV Sticks make this even easier, as there’s no need to “jailbreak” them – they already offer the legal option to install 3rd party apps via files (without using the official Amazon App Store), in a process known as “sideloading”, by making a small change of settings.

The allure of free or cheap content is undeniable, but the implications are far-reaching. Not only does this undermine the content creators and providers, but it also places users in a precarious position, opening the door to malware, data theft, and fraud.

The Fight Against IPTV Across The UK

The UK’s battle against illegal IPTV services has intensified over the years, with law enforcement and industry bodies joining forces to tackle the sophisticated networks that undermine the entertainment industry and pose significant risks to consumers.

The £1 Million Firestick Premier League Scheme

One of the most significant cases in recent times involved a Shrewsbury man, Steven Mills, who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for operating an illegal streaming service that broadcast Premier League matches.

Premier League logo on phone
Premier League logo (Photo: Deposit Photos)

Mills’ operation, which amassed £1 million over five years, exploited custom apps on Amazon’s Fire TV devices to distribute the content to over 30,000 subscribers.

The £800,000 Sky TV Streaming Scheme

Another recent landmark case saw the dismantling of a £800,000 illegal IPTV operation that provided unauthorized access to Sky TV packages.

Orchestrated by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), the operation led to the arrest of two individuals and the seizure of a significant amount of cash, custom streaming devices, and digital devices. 

Illegal IPTV evidence
Confiscated Devices (Photo: Regional Organised Crime Unit)

The Londoner’s £250,000 Streaming Scheme

In London, Riki Adal’s operation, known as “Mighty Flex,” was brought to an end after generating almost £250,000 from pirated content.

Adal’s scheme involved illegally streaming sports and movie channels, along with other premium television content.

Hacker arrested police

This case, resulting from a raid on Adal’s Hackney home, not only showcased the financial implications of illegal IPTV services but also the risks posed to consumers, who may unknowingly support criminal activities and expose themselves to cybersecurity threats.

Identifying Illegal IPTV Sites And Apps

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is simply the name of the technology that delivers television content over the internet, rather than through traditional terrestrial, satellite, or cable TV formats.

Therefore, any streaming service operates via IPTV – Prime Video, Disney+, ITVX, etc. Those IPTV-based services are of course legal, and are paying the necessary royalties to content providers.

Illegal IPTV sites and apps offer streaming services without the proper licensing, often providing access to premium content for free or at a significantly reduced cost.

These platforms can be identified by their offering of content that normally requires a subscription, at no cost or at prices that seem too good to be true.

They might also lack professional websites or user agreements, and may have poor performance or quality compared to legitimate services.

Avoiding Unlawful Streaming

When purchasing a Firestick, it’s important to buy from reputable retailers to ensure the device has not been altered (and does not include any pre-installed illegal IPTV software).

If a Firestick is advertised with pre-installed third-party applications or promises of free access to premium content, it’s likely jailbroken/modified.

It’s also advisable to avoid IPTV sites and apps that offer unauthorised access to premium content. Stick to well-known and reputable streaming services to ensure a safe and legal viewing experience.

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1 thought on “Firestick Crackdown: Week Of IPTV Raids Hits 11 Houses”

  1. Makes you wonder if Sky and Virgin reduced their prices, millions wouldn’t go to these lengths to watch live sport…….in fact it would make the fraud teams happier with less work to do.


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