6 December 2018Copyright

UK police warn of video games piracy before Christmas

London police have warned the public to beware of pirated video games and ‘modded’ consoles ahead of the Christmas shopping period.

The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) placed a particular focus on the Nintendo Switch console, saying it is investigating “a prominent” UK ‘modder’ of the console.

‘Modded’ consoles are those which are modified with either a chip or software, and allow users to play pirated video games. Hardware devices including the SX Pro can also fulfil this purpose.

PIPCU arrested a 43-year-old man on Tuesday, December 4, for copyright offences, seizing hard drives, microchips and computer equipment. The arrest came as PIPCU attempts to raise public awareness of illegally pirated video games and modified video game consoles.

PIPCU warned that ‘modded’ consoles may not function properly. A modified Nintendo Switch, for example, may not allow users to play online, and may no longer work at all when regular network updates are installed.

In addition to concerns over the quality of modified consoles, pirated video games downloaded from the internet also carry the risk of malware and viruses. PIPCU also warned that purchasers risk identity theft and fraud when buying consoles and pirated games from unknown merchants.

Detective Inspector Nicholas Court said that PIPCU had been instrumental in taking down thousands of websites selling counterfeit goods and prevented thousands of consumers from handing over their personal and payment details to criminals “who often commit further crime including identity theft”.

PIPCU last year initiated its ‘There’s more at stake when it’s a fake’ campaign, highlighting the dangers of identity fraud when purchasing counterfeit goods online.

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