The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has seized a bootleg streaming service frequented by over two million users. The platform came with its own customer service team earned over €15 million ($17 million) via bank transfers and cryptocurrency.

The criminal operation, which ran for more than five years, has been pirating over 40,000 movies, documentaries, and TV shows from platforms like Netflix and Amazon. But recently the illegal service is being captured by Europol, reported Bloomberg.

The Illegal Site Using Cryptocurrency

Movies
Streaming services (Representational picture) Pixabay

The European authorities said that they have seized approximately €4.8 million ($5.4 million) in ill-gotten cryptocurrencies and froze a further €1.1 million ($1.2 million) in various bank accounts.

This discovery by European officials comes as millions of people seek refuge online during the Coronavirus lockdown, which caused a massive hike in the usage of streaming services all around the world. The streaming giant Netflix added 15 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020.

Spike in Piracy

Piracy
Piracy cases increased during lockdown Flicker

The pandemic not only helped the streaming services to flourish but also prompted a rampant rise in piracy. According to Muso, which is an anti-piracy firm, the visits to illegal piracy sites had spiked by over 40 percent in the U.K. The findings also suggested that the "unprecedented gains" are reflected in other countries across the world. The largest increase was seen in Italy, where it surged 66 percent.

As per the report, pirated TV numbers have dropped because of a lack of live sport. It added that software piracy also up by about 29 percent in both the U.K. and the U.S. and more than 41 percent in Italy. Media Research analyst Tim Mulligan told Bloomberg that the background threat of piracy means "The subscription video-on-demand services will have the ongoing threat of piracy as a pricing factor."

At the time when many people lost their jobs due to economic crisis and facing a hard time to find out a new job, as the economies are closed, led them to seek cheaper and in some cases illegal alternatives.