A Sunderland man has been arrested by police investigating the distribution of illegal TV set top boxes.
Officers from the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Unit (PIPCU) raided an address in Sunderland on Thursday as part of a wider, regional operation.
A 37 year-old man was arrested on suspicion of distributing an unauthorised decoder, money laundering and making/supplying items for use in fraud.
PIPCU officers also arrested another five people after swooping on addresses in Sunderland and Washington, as well as in County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire
The day of action - on Thursday - took place to disrupt the sale of set top boxes, which have been illegally modified to stream pirated channels, including movies and sport.
Forty-two Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) set top boxes, suspected to allow access to subscription-only channels, were seized
The operation also involved the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the Northeast Regional Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU) and regional Trading Standards.
It was launched after a tip-off was made to FACT last month, which indicated that illegally modified IPTV boxes were being sold in the North East.
PIPCU Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe said: “This operation is an excellent example of multi-agency working across force boundaries to tackle piracy and those intent on making money at the expense of honest subscription payers who deserve a fair deal.
"Set top box piracy is costing the entertainment industry millions every year and it invites possible risks from malware and viruses into homes where these devices are in use. We routinely seek to identify and disrupt those intent on making quick cash from piracy and will use every enforcement opportunity to bring them to justice.”
FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: “This joint operation in the North East sends a clear message to anyone involved in the sale of illegal TV streaming boxes that FACT, along with the police and Trading Standards, are taking this crime very seriously.
"Consumers need to be aware that these cheap pre-configured TV boxes are illegal. They are stealing copyrighted content and starving UK businesses from revenue, as well as putting consumers’ devices at risk of malware and ransomware.”
PIPCU is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.
The operationally independent unit was launched in September 2013 with funding from the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The unit is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud.