A popular IPTV service that offered illegal streaming of BT Sport, including Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches, has been shut down – with its owner sentenced to five years in jail.
According to the City of London Police, the man – Mark Brockley, from Liverpool – made £237,000 by selling subscriptions to his streaming service, which was advertised under the name “Infinity Streams”.
However, the police believe that Brockley travelled to France with his dog to avoid prosecution, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
The sentencing was therefore done in his absence, and Brockley will serve his prison sentence once he has been arrested.
It is believed Brockley made more than 5,000 sales before his operation was shut down (see below on how to identify illegal IPTV services).
Illegal IPTV – What Is It All About?
With streaming services becoming so popular, the term “IPTV” has become somewhat confusing – as it relates to both legal and illegal services.
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 – Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, etc. Those IPTV-based services are of course legal, and are paying the necessary royalties to content providers.
However, many unauthorized services also present themselves as “IPTV”, and the term has unfortunately become synonymous with those illegal services that occasionally pop up online, and are available either via websites or on “jailbroken” streaming devices.
These unauthorized services often offer pirated content, including premium TV channels, movies, and live sports events, without the proper permissions or payment to content owners.
In the UK, the use and distribution of unlicensed IPTV services are illegal and can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
The British government and content providers are committed to protecting intellectual property rights and combating piracy, which is why they actively pursue individuals and organizations involved in illegal IPTV operations.
The Fall of Infinity Streams’ £237K IPTV Scheme
Back in November 2018, The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) launched an investigation after BT reported that a Twitter account, using the handle @Infinity_IPTV (the account has since been suspended) was advertising the sale of premium film, television and sports content to its followers.
At the time, subscribers could purchase a subscription to Infinity IPTV for £15/month.
Then, subscribers were able to stream illegal BT Sport content – including Premier League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football matches.
The unit identified that Brockley had made 5,251 sales with a total value of £237,058 between 2014 and 2019. Of these, 1,408 sales, worth a total of £50,479, made a clear reference to IPTV services, but officers from PIPCU believe that the remaining payments were also related to the sale of these services.
In addition, Brockley had not declared any income to HMRC since December 2018.
Officers executed a search warrant at Brockley’s home address on 24 July 2019, and seized a laptop and mobile phone, which further linked Brockley to the @Infinity_IPTV Twitter account. They also seized £1,200 in cash.
During his police interview, Brockley answered ‘no comment’ to all questions. Even after the interview, he received 10 further payments in relation to the supply of IPTV services, worth a total of £278.
Following the interview, the accused is believed to have left the country. He was found guilty of supplying articles for use in fraud and of the fraudulent evasion of income tax at a trial in his absence at Liverpool Crown Court on March 30, 2023, after he failed to attend court.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment at the same court on May 5, 2023.
Detective Constable Geoffrey Holbrook, from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said:
“Brockley made tens of thousands of pounds from an illegal activity and used the money to fund his lifestyle.
“Despite being interviewed by PIPCU officers and knowing that his actions were against the law, he continued to sell IPTV subscriptions and then left the country in an attempt to avoid the consequences of his actions.
“We are now appealing for information on Brockley’s whereabouts, and ask anyone who may be able to help to contact the City of London Police.”
How Can I Identify Illegal IPTV Services?
With so many legitimate streaming services popping up these days, readers often ask me how to identify the illegal ones.
The best way is to look for certain red flags:
1. Price: Illegal IPTV services usually offer subscriptions at significantly lower prices than legitimate services. If the price seems too good to be true (compared to similar, legal streaming services), it may indicate that the service is operating unlawfully.
2. Content: Unauthorized services may provide access to premium channels, pay-per-view events, or newly-released movies without requiring additional fees. Legitimate streaming services typically charge extra for premium content or have specific agreements with content providers.
3. Website and branding: Illegal IPTV providers often have poorly-designed websites with limited information, spelling errors, and low-quality images. They might also lack proper branding or use logos from a multitude of well-known broadcasters without permission.
4. Payment methods: Illicit IPTV services may request payment through untraceable or unconventional methods, such as cryptocurrencies or gift cards, to avoid detection by the authorities.
5. Lack of proper terms and conditions: A legitimate IPTV service will typically have clear terms and conditions outlining the usage of their service. Illegal providers often lack such documentation or provide vague and unprofessional terms.
6. Customer support: Unauthorized IPTV providers might offer limited or non-existent customer support, making it difficult for users to seek assistance or file complaints.
7. Online reviews: Do some research and check for online reviews or forum discussions about the IPTV service in question. Legitimate services usually have a more substantial online presence and positive feedback from users.
As a rule of thumb – if the offer looks too good to be true (several expensive streaming services being offered for a low price under one service, expensive sports subscriptions that suddenly cost half, etc.) – then it probably IS too good to be true.
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