4 June 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Ex-police officer jailed for selling illegal streaming devices

A former police officer has been jailed for selling illegal devices that bypassed paid-for TV content and cost legitimate service providers more than £2 million ($2.5 million).

Earlier this month, Daniel Aimson pled guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to one year in prison.

In 2017,  Greater Manchester Police (GMP) launched a joint investigation into Aimson, who was a serving GMP police officer at the time, alongside trade organisation  Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Detective constable Paul Bayliss of GMP said: “Aimson was making enormous amounts of money from what he knew to be an illegal activity. He was a police employee with a good career. That is now in tatters and he’s facing a lengthy prison sentence during which to contemplate his foolish and deceitful actions.”

The investigation confirmed that Aimson was involved in managing a company that produced Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) devices, which allow access to content like sport and films that typically require a monthly subscription.

The company also sold streaming services—allowing anything between 48 hours to six months access to paid-for content—which enabled the viewer to log on to an online portal where paid-for content was available without the need for a physical IPTV device.

Between September 2016 and May 2017, approximately 1,640 illicit IPTV devices were sold.

In September 2017, Aimson was arrested at his home and items were recovered which implicated him in the fraud. He was immediately suspended from his role with the police force.

A satellite TV provider undertook a cost analysis of Aimson’s illicit activities, concluding the loss to the company was more than £924,000. The loss to the same satellite TV provider from Aimson’s online portal streaming service was estimated to be £1,200,000.

Kieron Sharp, chief executive of FACT, said: “This result is an excellent example of the serious actions taken against those who provide illicit content through streaming services.

“Individuals are motivated by the financial benefits from providing illegal content, but FACT is leading the way in combating digital piracy and has worked closely with GMP to hold these suppliers accountable for their actions.”

IPTV boxes are a popular way to access content illegally. In September 2017, a  report on digital piracy, released by FACT, in conjunction with the UK Intellectual Property Office and PIPCU, found that more than one million illegal set-top boxes with add-ons had been sold in the UK over the prior two years.

In May 2020, FACT  reported that the number of illegal streaming links online has trebled during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown and that its team had removed “more than double” the volume of illegal streaming links online in April compared to February.

Meanwhile, in Australia, anti-piracy and copyright protection body the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE)  helped to shut down Aus Media Streaming, a “piracy outfit” that was selling IPTV set-top boxes and subscriptions in March.

The global coalition, with members including Amazon, BBC Worldwide, HBO, and Netflix, has secured the closure of more than 30 piracy operations involved in the distribution and sale of pre-loaded piracy devices, apps, and IPTV subscriptions.

Earlier this year, US TV provider Dish Network  secured $9.9 million in damages from the operators of the pirate internet TV service Easybox IPTV.

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More on this story

4 March 2020   Anti-piracy and copyright protection body the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has helped shut down Aus Media Streaming, a “piracy outfit that was selling internet protocol television set-top boxes and subscriptions”.
10 February 2020   US television provider Dish Network has won $9.9 million in damages from the operators of the pirate internet TV service Easybox IPTV.
12 November 2020   Europol and national law enforcement agencies have shut down a Swiss piracy operation which earned €1.9 million from illegal streaming boxes.