Police in Greece have dismantled a pirate network which provided illegal pay TV services in Greece. The operation followed a thorough investigation by the Patras Security Sub-Directorate.
The Hellenic Police have made ten arrests, including the ring leader, deputy leader, treasurer, and dealers. Ten more people who have been accused of involvement also face criminal charges.
Additional details pertaining to police operations in taking down such criminal networks in the country are soon to come to light.
According to the Hellenic Police, those involved in the “pirate” ring made more than 25 million euros in profits. The Cosmote, Nova, and Vodafone platforms have suffered losses that amount to roughly one hundred million euros.
Additionally, 13,000 pay-TV subscribers in Greece have been identified. Four of the platforms that had suffered losses have sent the appropriate data to authorities. Some perpetrators have shut down their platforms, so authorities have not been able to gain access.
The members of the criminal network in Greece have been channeling in the market decoders of illegal broadcasting of pay TV channels for the last eight years. They have implemented specialized technical means, illegal software, and special decoders to establish their services.
Police stated that the members also operated an illegal internet platform. They acted as managers or dealers of the services and broadcasting devices provided to customers. The accused received monetary compensation in person, via digital banks based abroad, and through payments to their own or family members’ bank accounts.
According to a Hellenic Police press release, members of the organization provided access to a vast array of films and TV series to customers. These were part of subscription packages they offered. However, royalties were never paid to the corresponding production and distribution companies.
The criminal organization members laundered financial profits via betting companies as well as by purchasing real estate and setting up partnerships.
Criminal charges against perpetrators
Authorities formed a criminal case against the perpetrators for multiple criminal offenses. These include establishing and participating in a criminal organization and violations of the laws on intellectual property
Charges were also brought against them for violating, first of all, regulations relevant to the wider media sector and, secondly, legislation on the prevention and suppression of money laundering from criminal activities among other things.
Penalties for pirate TV users in Greece
According to Greek law, those who gain access, for instance, at sporting events using a decoder bought illegally, face a minimum of one month’s imprisonment and a fine of between five hundred to fifteen thousand euros.
In addition, if the audiovisual content provider takes legal action against the illegal user, the imposition of a fine of up to three hundred thousand dollars as an administrative sanction may be possible.
There are around 650,000 to 900,000 subscribers in Greece who illegally access content on pay TV platforms. Based on modest estimates of at least five hundred thousand illegal subscribers, the pirates’ annual revenue exceeds 160 million euros.
This illegal activity costs the public sector around 35 million euros per year. At the same time, the viability of pay TV is threatened by the reintroduction of over-the-top taxation of Greek content providers.