Italian police announced that they have helped “smash” the largest pirate television streaming service in the world. The illegal service — known as Xtream Codes — had over 5 million paying customers in Italy alone, Italian news outlet The Local reported earlier today.
Police officials coordinated their efforts internationally, teaming up with authorities from the Netherlands, Greece, France, Bulgaria, and Germany — all conducting raids orchestrated by Eurojust, the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency. These raids have resulted in 23 suspects being arrested so far.
Reports state that the pirate network is responsible for around €6.5 million ($7.2 million) of damage to the television streaming market. The service reportedly put thousands of jobs at risk by taking money away from legitimate television streaming companies such as Amazon which, per The Inquisitr, will soon start filming its $1 billion Lord of the Rings TV show.
Xtream Codes was set up so that subscribers could pay €12 ($13.25) a month and receive television services from Sky Italy, Mediaset, and even Netflix, among others, at a price well below the market rate.
The operation resulted in over 200 servers being taken offline and some 150 PayPal accounts suspected to belong to members of the ring getting blocked.
Italy’s representative for Eurojust, Filippo Spiezia, shared details at a press conference at The Hague on the west coast of the Netherlands.
“The damage caused to the broadcast companies, the private sector and public institutions so far is immense…The effects created by this illegal activity include unfair competition, financial loss… and thousands of jobs put in danger.”
Despite the shutdown, one popular TV streaming YouTuber reported that Xtream Codes is confident that a fix is “coming soon”.
Valeria Sico is a deputy prosecutor at the Naples public prosecutions office who also attended the press conference.
“We discovered a new system… which was much more evolved,” she said, making comparisons to previous pirate TV network attempts.
Sico went on to say that beginning had the group had advertised the illegal service on Facebook, “telling people for a small price they could access all TV channels on demand.”
One Dutch prosecutor who specializes in cybercrime shared that the Netherlands alone had shut down 93 of the 200 servers, which were based in and around The Hague.
“This was a criminal group that used a sophisticated technical network that was really intended to resist actions by the authorities.”
Greek publication Ekathimerini reported that the two suspected masterminds behind the platform — Greek nationals aged 27 and 31-years-old — were arrested in Athens and Thessaloniki. Among the resources seized at the homes of the two individuals were cryptocurrency wallets — one branded with the illegal network’s logo — around €115,000 in cash, four servers, and over 20 Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) streaming boxes.