In a joint operation carried out by Spain's Policía Nacional and EUROPOL, a major pirate IPTV service serving half a million users across Europe has been shut down. Police say packages included 2,600 live TV channels and a 23,000-item VOD library, generating annual profits of more than €3 million for the operators. Four people have been arrested and 95 resellers placed on alert.

In the wake of Italian police shutting down a 900,000 user pirate IPTV service last week, police in Spain have followed up with an operation of their own.

Information provided by Policía Nacional and EUROPOL does not include the service’s name but according to the numbers, the operation appears significant. The IPTV service had more than 500,000 subscribers all over Europe, serviced by a network of resellers.

Police say they disabled 10 administration panels connected to 32 servers located in France, the Netherlands and Spain. Those locations are reported as playing host to “illegal television content” and related computer equipment.

Packages bought by subscribers gave them access to 2,600 live TV channels plus a library of 23,000 movies and TV shows. An interesting factor is the reported age of the service – at least a decade of operations according to Spanish police.

Investigation Launched in 2020

The investigation began in 2020 following a complaint from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Police say that they uncovered a network, operating through various companies, that had been fraudulently commercializing video content since 2012.

Websites were used to advertise and sell the illegal subscription packages and like many similar IPTV platforms working at scale, a network of resellers helped to cascade sales from the top-level service into the consumer market below. Police say that than 95 resellers represented the service in Spain, UK, Malta, Portugal, Cyprus, and Greece.

Big Service, Big Money

Numbers provided today by Policía Nacional will almost certainly change, if and when a case goes to trial, but by most standards they remain significant.

Annual profit – not revenue – is currently estimated at 3,000,000 million euros. Investigators say the money was laundered in Spain and elsewhere.

Through bank accounts held by companies in Spain, the suspects allegedly transferred money to bank accounts held by other companies under their control, located in unnamed paraísos fiscales, aka tax havens. Profits also funded luxury homes in the Malaga region of Spain and the formation of new companies to support criminal activity.

Arrests and Seizures

Police say they seized two high-end vehicles with an estimated value of 180,000 euros along with 2,800 euros in cash, IT-related materials, and other documentation. Eight bank accounts were frozen and four people were placed under arrest.

“The operation ended with four detainees in the Málaga municipalities of Benahavís (2), Mijas (one person arrested and another under investigation) and Benalmádena (1),” a police statement reads.

Efforts to identify more people involved in the organization continue in other countries.