IPTV Bust: Modified Fire TV Stick Scheme Uncovered

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A 51-year-old man in Widnes has been arrested for allegedly selling modified Amazon Fire TV Sticks and other streaming devices, as authorities ramp up their fight against illegal streaming services.

Detectives from the Cheshire Police Cyber Crime Unit, supported by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), made the arrest during an early morning raid this week.

The operation uncovered a cache of evidence including modified streaming devices, which have become increasingly popular tools for accessing unauthorised premium content.

This latest arrest highlights the risks associated with using or distributing modified streaming devices, as many people do not even realize they’re using an illegal service (see below for our guide on how to avoid these “dodgy boxes”).

The Early Morning Raid

On Wednesday, July 3, at approximately 9:30 am, officers executed a warrant at an address in Widnes, Cheshire.

Widnes IPTV arrest
The Arrest (Photo: Cheshire Police)

The operation led to the arrest of a 51-year-old man on suspicion of multiple offences, including fraud, possession of criminal property, and possession of Class A drugs.

During the raid, officers seized a substantial cache of electronic devices, including computers, phones, digital satellite television boxes and Fire TV sticks.

As is common in cases of cybercrime these days, cryptocurrency was also confiscated alongside traditional cash and a small quantity of drugs.

The confiscated devices are currently undergoing forensic examination with support from FACT, potentially unveiling evidence about the scale and reach of this alleged illegal streaming operation.

Confiscated Fire TV streaming devices IPTV
The Confiscated Devices (Photo: Cheshire Police)

The suspect has since been released under investigation as enquiries continue.

The Firestick Connection

While the specifics of this case are still under investigation, it’s worth noting the frequent use of Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks in similar illegal streaming operations.

These popular streaming devices, when modified or “jailbroken”, can be used to access unauthorised content, including premium TV channels, live sports events, and the latest films.

While other streaming devices are also sometimes used, the Fire TV is more popular in such cases than devices like Roku sticks because it’s relatively easier to install unvetted, third-party apps on Firesticks than on Roku devices.

Amazon Fire TV Max 2nd in hand

Modifying these devices, sometimes referred to as “sideloading” or “jailbreaking” (a term that used to refer to iOS devices, but has since become common in these types of cases), involves installing applications that aren’t available through the official Amazon App Store.

While this practice isn’t inherently illegal, it becomes problematic when used to access copyrighted content without proper authorisation.

Illegal streaming services often exploit this ability by either selling pre-modified Firesticks or providing step-by-step instructions for users to install unauthorised IPTV apps on their existing devices.

Detective Constable Hannah Clement, a Specialist Cyber Investigator, emphasised the seriousness of these crimes: “While many people think that illegal streaming is a victimless crime, that is simply not the case.

“It causes an enormous loss to the entertainment industry and is also unfair that millions of people work hard to afford their subscription-only TV services while others cheat the system.

“I hope that this warrant acts as a warning to those who knowingly commit or facilitate online copyright infringement”.

A Pattern of Piracy: Recent UK IPTV Cases

This latest arrest in Widnes is part of a broader trend of law enforcement crackdowns on illegal streaming across the UK.

Police arresting a hacker
Illustrative Photo

Several high-profile cases in recent months that have also taken advantage of Firesticks, include:

The £1 Million Firestick Premier League Scheme: In October 2023, Steven Mills from Shrewsbury was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for operating an illegal streaming service that broadcast Premier League matches.

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

The Nationwide Crackdown: In March 2024, the City of London Police launched a targeted operation against illegal streaming services, resulting in multiple arrests and interviews under caution across the country.

IPTV on a laptop

The operation specifically targeted individuals involved in the sale of modified Firesticks providing illegal access to premium TV content.

The £500,000 Liverpool Bust: In June 2024, Kevin James O’Donnell, a 41-year-old resident of Liverpool, received a two-year suspended sentence for promoting and selling illegally modified Amazon Fire TV Sticks.

His operation generated over £130,000 in revenue, defrauding content owners of more than half a million pounds.

Protecting Yourself: Spotting Modified Fire TV Sticks

As illegal streaming operations become more sophisticated, it’s essential to be aware of how to identify and avoid modified Fire TV Sticks, also sometimes known as “dodgy boxes”.

Here are a few red flags:

Be Wary of “Fully Loaded” Devices

If you see Fire TV Sticks advertised as “fully loaded,” “jailbroken,” or promising “free/low-cost access to premium content,” these are likely modified for illegal streaming.

Legitimate Fire TV Sticks never come pre-loaded with apps for accessing paid content for free (not to be confused with streaming services that are free by design, like Tubi or Pluto TV).

Suspiciously Low Prices

While everyone loves a bargain, be cautious of Fire TV Sticks sold at prices significantly lower than Amazon’s official pricing, with the streaming “service” being a disproportionate part of the price.

Fire TV sticks 2023

If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Unofficial Sellers

It’s probably best to always purchase your Fire TV Stick (and other streaming devices) from authorised retailers. Be wary of “new” devices sold through social media platforms, online marketplaces, or unofficial websites.

Pre-Installed Third-Party Apps

Legitimate Fire TV Sticks come with a standard set of apps. And, of course, if they’re new, they should come sealed.

Fire TV Apps on TV
Fire TV Apps

If your device arrives with unfamiliar apps pre-installed, especially those promising free access to premium content, it might have been modified.

Instructions for “Sideloading”

While sideloading (installing apps from outside the official App Store) isn’t illegal and can actually be useful for some people, be cautious if your Fire TV Stick comes with instructions for sideloading specific apps.

This method is often used to install illegal streaming software.

Unusual Home Screen Layouts

Modified Fire TV Sticks may have customised home screens featuring prominently placed illegal streaming apps. If your new device’s home screen looks significantly different from the “default” Fire TV screens, be suspicious.

Fire TV 4K main screen 2023

Remember, while modified Fire TV Sticks might promise access to a world of low-cost content (such as new TV shows, blockbuster films, and sports streaming like the Premier League and others), they often come with significant risks.

These can include exposure to malware, personal data theft, and potential legal consequences. 

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2 thoughts on “IPTV Bust: Modified Fire TV Stick Scheme Uncovered”

  1. Lower the prices,we are getting ripped off again,like petrol,,watered down buy 10% yet still pay more,the gov should step in and set a price limit,gas,elecky,food,fags beer the list go’s on

  2. If the legitimate providers(sky, tnt etc) reduced their over infkated prices, many more people would pay fir the service rather than use the illegal route. So come on Sky and Tnt etc – dranstically reduce prices!


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